The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

March 3, 2014

Patchwork quilt, created by students, bought, returned to St. Francis School

BECKLEY — More than 2,000 years ago, Jesus of Nazareth said, “Give, and it will be given to you ...

“For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Students and staff at St. Francis de Sales Catholic School have a warm and colorful reminder that their faith-inspired deeds can sometimes reward them with something they can see and touch.

Dr. Emily Meadows, St. Francis de Sales dean of ninth- and 10th-grade students, said high schoolers Chase Buckhannon, Jessica Bolen, Aly Christiansen, Hannah Kinder-Schuyler and Marshall Cox have been doing community service projects throughout the school year.

Meadows said the students decorated a tree in the United Way’s Wonderland of Trees Festival, with materials paid for by Dr. and Mrs. E.J. Salon and an anonymous donor and collected and donated clothing and hygiene items for the Women’s Resource Center during Catholic Schools Week.

But a recent “good deed” has come back to them.

The students’ core school principles — which include being reverent, respectful, responsible and supportive — are now showing in a very special way at St. Francis in the form of a nine-block quilt that the students created, with help from Meadows and high school instructor Becca Cobb.

The students helped create the quilt with the idea that they would donate it to be auctioned off at Casino Nite — the largest annual fundraising benefit for their school.

Novices at quilting, they spent several weeks putting their hearts and sweat into patchwork squares that represented six core values: Trustworthy, Respect, Respectable, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship.

“The kids had their own designs, based on the character traits they’d drawn out of a hat,” explained Meadows. “They created the design and traced it onto the fabric.”

Some students were apprehensive at first about designing a square, and they were amazed at the way it transferred onto the fabric, said Meadows.

The freshmen and sophomores worked together on the project.

“I was really concerned about the boys,” she added. “But they really enjoyed it.”

Once the squares were finished, Meadows — who loves to sew but had only sewn one quilt in the past — handstitched the batting and sewed the quilted squares during days when school was canceled due to snow.

The quilt became personal to both students and staff, related Meadows.

But at Casino Nite on Feb. 1, it was placed up for bid.

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At Casino Nite, amid the flash of sequined dresses and the felicitous noise, Meadows and her husband kept an eye on the quilt.

Meadows had heard that a St. Francis family planned to bid on it, but she wasn’t — Casino Nite spirit notwithstanding — taking chances.

“My husband and I watched all night,” she confessed. “If it was someone out of St. Francis (winning the bid), I was going to bid.”

The silent auction made it difficult to tell just who was bidding on the students’ quilt, so Meadows had a few moments of uncertainty that night, she recalled.

“I was getting ready to put a bid down,” she said, when she saw that the parents of sophomore Hannah Schuyler-Kinder were bidding.

Hannah’s parents — Alicia Kinder and Shawn Schuyler of Bill Kinder and Associates, a retirement and financial planning services business — are longtime sponsors of Casino Nite, Kinder explained.

“We believe very strongly in the value of a Catholic education and are fortunate to have that option for our kids in our community,” said Kinder, whose middle daughter, Cate, is in fourth grade at St. Francis. “A faith-based education at a small school like St. Francis provides students with a learning environment focused on values and respect for others, more in-depth, one-on-one instruction.

“The faculty work to create an environment where students feel safe and respected, while also giving them opportunities for personal buy-in in the success of the school.”

This year, though, the benefit was extra special, the couple agreed, because Hannah had been excited.

“Our oldest daughter, Hannah, is a 10th-grader at the ... school, and we knew the students and faculty had been working on a special project for the silent auction,” explained Kinder.

Kinder added that she and Schuyler saw the quilt unveiled for the first time at Casino Nite.

“When we saw the quilt at the auction, we were impressed with the work the kids had put into it,” she said. “My husband insisted we get it.”

The couple weren’t the only ones who wanted the quilt; several bids had already been placed.

“Alicia said, ‘The price is kind of high,’” recalled Schuyler.

Bill Kinder and Associates paid the final tender on the quilt, purchasing it to benefit the school, said Schuyler.

“We did it as a favor to Hannah ... because she worked on the quilt with the other students and the teachers,” Schuyler explained.

At the end of the night, the quilt was placed in the hands of Schuyler and Kinder.

In a final show of generosity, Meadows said, the couple donated the quilt back to the St. Francis high schoolers.

Schuyler said the donation was Hannah’s idea.

“Hannah said, ‘You know, the teachers would really like to have that back,’” he recalled. “It’s nice to be able to give it back. We’ve gotten a lot of great things from the school, and we like being able to do something for the school.”

The quilt now hangs in its permanent home of St. Francis — prominently displayed in a hallway at the high school students’ annex.

The first class of St. Francis high school students pass by the patchwork reminder of their values — and their “sowing” of faithful deeds — every time they enter their classroom.

“The kids are so proud of this,” said Meadows.

She said a second quilt is in the works for next year and that quilt-making may become an annual event for the high school students.

National Quilting Day 2014 is March 15. For more information on quilting, visit The National Quilting Association at www.nqaquilts.org/.

— E-mail: jfarrish@register-herald.com

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