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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 20, Number 4, January/February 2008

The helping hands crochet project

By Vicki Stuart

Rochester Elementary is a K–5 school situated on the west side of Coquitlam. It is a dual-track school with an enrolment of 368 students for the 2007–08 school year—219 students in the English program and 149 students enrolled in French immersion. Recently, our school has welcomed students from two nearby schools that have been closed—Vanier and Millside. This has had a positive affect on the culture of the school as our new students and families have added new perspectives, ideas, and enthusiasm.

Over the past four years, one of our school goals has been to focus on social responsibility by improving students’ skills in contributing to the classroom and school community. Some of our monthly themes have been caring, respect, a sense of belonging, and diversity. We teach these values through assemblies, direct classroom instruction, leadership groups, and daily school-wide announcements. The crochet project has been one way that students at Rochester have been able to achieve and/or work toward this goal.

Over 100 students are involved in the school-wide activity of crocheting. Interested students are invited to get together during noon hour to learn the basic crochet stitch in order to complete their scarves. We are making scarves for the homeless and giving them to Share, a local community service agency in the Tri-City area.

During the crochet times, students listen to classical music and have the opportunity to chat with classmates to get to know others in the school. Students have been responsible in working with one another during these times and offering support and skills. As one student notes, "I like helping others."

It is amazing to see the support that parents have given the project. This has come by way of donations of wool and crochet hooks. Also mothers and grandmothers have been making scarves themselves and donating them to the project. Parents have been thrilled that their children are learning how to crochet and that they are donating their scarves to people in need. One of our parents remarked, "My child is learning patience during this project."

Enthusiasm for this project has continued to grow as new students join the crochet club. Today we have completed over 50 beautiful scarves for the homeless. The students and families at Rochester Elementary have made an amazing contribution to the Coquitlam community. As the need is eloquently highlighted by one of the students, "I like making scarves for the homeless because in the winter it is very cold and the homeless can die and they’re people too."

Vicki Stuart teaches at Rochester Elementary School, Coquitlam.


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