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Old School

To some, the term “old school” evokes images of diners, drive-in movies, rolled up jeans or classic cars. To Wells Middle School teacher Katie Allen, the term evokes images of cursive lessons, map reading, telling time on analog clocks, and sewing. A new class called “Old School,” inspired by and taught by Allen, is introducing students to some of these low-tech, yet still valuable, skills. And the popular class is at capacity. 


“So far, the students have enjoyed the unit on sewing the most,” said Allen.  “I love seeing how their confidence builds in such a short period of time. My favorite part of teaching this class is when students stop me in the hall to tell me that they fixed a pair of pants, sewed a button for a family member, or made their pet a little bed, and they are just beaming with pride.” 


A rolling cart holds containers for each student, each one filled with colorful felt squares, buttons, thread, and needles. When students learned that a supply of needle threaders had arrived, they let out a collective cheer.


“We are going to start on felt bookmarks today, and I will show you a new stitch, the blanket stitch, which you may have seen on - you guessed it - blankets,” said Allen.


Students gathered around a center table to watch as Allen demonstrated, pushing and pulling the thread through the fabric, looping it around the edge, and then repeating the sequence.


Jack Bryggman and Dominick Misiano worked together at a nearby table. “We did a little bit of sewing in fourth grade for Colonial Day, but I didn’t really learn how to sew until this class,” said Jack.


“How do you tie this off?” he asked, while finishing up some stitches. 


Dominick leaned over and explained, “first you pull it through, and then you knot it.”


“I’ve never learned to sew before, so I really like this class,” said Shayla Martinez, “I made a felt stuffed monster for my four-year-old sister. She loves everything that’s soft and cute.”


“Old school, to me, means no computers, so I thought that I wouldn’t like this class, but I really like the design aspect, and I actually love sewing,” said Nico Bellantoni.


Charlotte Vyborna has sewn before. “I used to sew with my grandmother,” she said.


“I can see how I will use sewing in the future,” said Juliana Lila. “If I rip my leggings, I will be able to repair them.”


“I want to be a fashion designer, so I definitely need to know how to sew,” said Emma Cesar.


Marielle Houdusse said, “I have never sewn before, but if I ever grow up to be a parent, I’ll probably sew buttons for my kids, just like my mom.”