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L-R: Quilts of Valor Representative Darlene Coit, honoree Patti Rim, JoAnn Mills, Kim VanderSpek, and Gail Leblanc.
Students Create a Quilt of Valor for Our Upper School Assistant
“Sewing quilt patterns is a great, hands-on way to learn rotational symmetry,” says Upper School geometry teacher Gail LeBlanc. “The kids calculate, measure, cut, and piece together symmetrical shapes made up of isosceles right triangles” (or half-squares, as quilters call them).
Gail and colleague Kim VanderSpek have included quilting projects in their geometry and AP calculus classes for a few years. This year, they teamed up with Quilts of Valor, a foundation that distributes quilts to service members and veterans. They had a special veteran in mind when they planned their quilt — Upper School Administrative Assistant Patti Rim — a retired Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel whose 20 years of service included active duty in the Gulf War.
Bancroft Trustee and parent JoAnn Mills and teacher Kim VanderSpek, both seasoned quilters, shared their technical expertise with the calculus and geometry students involved in the project. Week after week, the students worked on their quilt blocks for a Stack-n-Whack quilt in shades of red, white, and blue. Kim did the final quilting and binding, and on Tuesday, June 5th, the students and teachers welcomed a Quilt of Valor representative to campus to present the quilt in a small ceremony.
"Surprised and humbled,” is how Patti described her reaction. “I was just shocked that so many people would spend their time doing this for me, just because I had served. It was very moving.”
In the end, this learning experience enriched our students with lessons far beyond sewing and math. It empowered them to create a tangible symbol of their respect and gratitude for a person who has not only served our country but continues to have a meaningful impact on their lives every day.
Below: Closeup examples of rotational symmetry in the Quilt of Valor.