Hands All Around

Block Number: 109

Marion Elementary Hosts “HANDS ALL AROUND”

By Ginger Todd

The Mission Statement of Marion Elementary School, as provided by Principal Donna Gardner, is: “To educate all students to their personal best through a team of students, educators, specialists, parents, guardians and community stakeholders. As a team, we will ensure all of our students are globally competitive and ready to be successful as they face the challenges of the 21st century. Hands All Around for the success of our students.”

Quilt Block #109 certainly represents this Mission and incorporates the genuine traditional quilt pattern “Hands All Around”.

The school’s history dates back to 1901 when the first two-story school was built on Academy Street, accommodating nine grades in session for nine months. Originally known as Marion Graded School, it operated separate from the County system, under its own Charter. Unfortunately, the school building was destroyed by fire in 1954, and the students were housed out to three local churches that opened their facilities for the children to continue their studies.

Subsequently, the city of Marion purchased acreage on Robert Street and in the fall of 1956 a new school building was ready to accept students, grades K-6th. At this time, the name was changed to Marion Elementary School and a year later, in 1957, a gym was added to the building. By 1962, more expansion was needed and classrooms, library, restrooms and other facilities were added. Over the next ten years further improvements were added, including a playground, handicap entrance, parking area and landscaping.

Air conditioning was installed in 1996 as well as new flooring and upgrading of electrical wiring. 1998 involved a huge renovation project and a new wing was added to the school. A computer lab accommodates high speed wireless internet access and cable television was made available to the classrooms. The school has approximately 450 pre-school and elementary students and is part of the Accelerated Reader Program, their library housing access to 9,000 books. Future expansion to the school campus is under discussion as the student population is growing each year.

The idea and desire to become a part of the McDowell Quilt Trail originated with two of the school’s teachers, Michelle Revis (whose grandfather was a quilter) and Julie McKinney. They had both been using quilt patterns in their daily class plans under the 21st Century Community Learning Program. The program consists of a Federal grant aimed at aiding rural and small city schools with funds to provide opportunities for at risk students. Its purpose is to increase academic skills and enrichment activities, including after school programs. Following the examples of actual quilts brought into the classroom, and learning of their history, the students created paper quilts, composing their own designs and pattern blocks. As the students choose the shapes and colors, their imagination is motivated and coordination skills are advanced. The activity finds learning opportunities in subjects from history to math.

On the cold Friday afternoon, January 13, 2012, the colorful Hands All Around 6’ X 6’ quilt block was put in place by volunteer workers Mike Lucas, Bob Brendle and Alan Scholl. The teachers and students tracked the installation progress by each class taking its turn going out for a few minutes to watch while Jill Lucas explained the process. It is located on 209 Robert Street, just three blocks from downtown Marion, and faces north. Principal Donna Gardner, along with teachers Michelle Revis and Julie McKinney were presented with the Certificate of Authenticity by Jill Lucas, chairperson of the McDowell Quilt Trail Committee.

Although the blue and gold colors of the school mascot, the Bulldogs, are included, the additional bright colors on the block are represented by the eight primary shades found in boxes of Crayola crayons, first introduced in 1903. They consisted of: black, blue, brown, green, orange, red, violet and yellow. The very center of the block represents the school structure and the students. The set of blue and purple “hands” surrounding the school and students are representative of the support from teachers and other staff. The border edge of the block consists of many “hands,” symbolizing the mainstay backing of parents, PTO, community, and other outside organizations.

As you drive by and take notice of the traditional Hands All Around quilt block, recall the meaning of these layers of support and the three A’s it encourages: Attendance, Attitude, and Achievement. Remember, you are a part of the outside support and can assist by linking Bi-Lo and Ingles grocery cards to Marion Elementary School each year, as well as saving General Mills Box Tops. When you obtain a Bi-Lo Booster Card, 1% of the amount spent will go to the school. Ingles helps provide equipment, and General Mills donates ten cents for each box top turned in.

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