By Dorri Partain
May 17, 2017
The supplies are wheeled into the classroom and the students gather their projects and quickly set to work. The clock is ticking – they still have a lot to accomplish before they take to the stage and show that “Design Is Everywhere.”
Pins, scissors, and sewing machines are not usual materials at Gladstone Elementary (335 N. Elmwood Ave.), but these seven fourth and fifth grade students have learned to use them like pros. As part of the after-school program sponsored by LINC (Local Investment Commission), the students spend two afternoons a week learning how to take a piece of fabric and turn it into a garment that will ultimately be featured in an upcoming fashion show.
Instructor Kechena Richardson was already rooted in Northeast, having graduated from Northeast High in 2008, before going off to Missouri State University to obtain her degree in Fashion Design. Now she has her own design studio, Kechena Designs, as well as taking on instructing students of all ages in the art of sewing. Assisted by LINC staff members Ms. Jones and Ms. Jo, the four boys and three girls in the class started back in January making pillows and scarves before learning to make their own fitted pattern for the final project, the fashion show apparel.
Anabel Olivarez, Fifth Grade, is making a blouse and skirt and is excited to show her design during the fashion show. Then, she stated, “I will wear it on vacation or a special occasion”. Also in Fifth Grade, D’Montrae Thompson is looking forward to the show but admitted he was nervous that he might trip and fall down; he will be modeling a dress shirt, with jacket and pants.
LINC has provided after-school programming at Gladstone since 1992 but this is the first time they have offered a sewing program. The idea came about after Richardson designed African costumes last year for students in the African Dance program. Funding for the program comes in part from 21st Century, to support STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) in local schools.
“We requested funding through the Department of Education and wrote a curriculum showing how using a tape measure, a sewing machine, even scissors, falls into the STEM format,” said Roosevelt Dickerson, Gladstone’s LINC program director. “If we make it fun, it’s easier to learn. These are life skills they can use use in the future, and we hope to spark an interest so they want to learn more.”
“I hope that the students will acquire a confidence where they are not only proactive in life, but are passionate about learning, no matter their environment,” Richardson commented about her youngest students. LINC also offered sewing classes to adults and parents through their Caring Communities program.
“Design Is Everywhere” will take place Saturday, May 20th at 1:30 PM in the Gladstone Elementary auditorium. In addition to the student’s original creations, the fashion show will include participants of the adult class and models showing spring and summer designs from Richardson. The show is open to the public.