by Karen Williamson, Caswell Messenger

Lisa Jones, Adult Education Instructor at Piedmont Community College (PCC) approached Selena Thornton, Executive Director of Cool Beans and Karen Williamson of Caswell Arts with an idea to host a summer STEAM Camp centered around HIDDEN FIGURES, a quilt, making ice cream, and a tour of Historic Yanceyville. The Piedmont Community College (PCC) Foundation awarded a grant to Jones to fund the program that allowed the purchase of sewing supplies, ice cream making supplies, HIDDEN FIGURES books, snacks, and daily lunch.

Held recently at the Yanceyville NC campus, this four-day program started with the attendees learning the different parts of a sewing machine, the proper way to thread the machine and the bobbin, and then how to sew together small fabric squares to make a quilt block.

On day two, Callie Brandon and Connie Waller from the Danville based Southside Virginia Quilters Guild, taught the art of hand sewing fabric together. Ms. Callie and Ms. Connie brought samples of their hand-stitched quilts to show the difference between machine stitching and hand stitching. During this session, the young budding sewers learned how to thread a needle, use a thimble, color theory, and the patterns and associated meanings behind popular quilt blocks.

On the third day, a discussion about the book HIDDEN FIGURES was lead by PCC librarian Vanessa Bass where each participant was encouraged to read a pre-chosen passage followed by group discussion. Afterwards, the group headed back to the sewing machines to finish stitching up the quilt.

A tour of Historic Yanceyville and ice cream making rounded out this year’s STEAM session. Lead by tour guide Margaret McMann with the Caswell County Tourism Commission, the tour began at the Historic Courthouse, followed by the old jail house, the Poteat School, and the Arboretum. The camp ended on a high note with the young ladies learning how to make (and then eat) ice cream and then the distribution of certificates of completion.

The reviews from the young ladies who participated in this summer STEAM camp were all positive. “I had fun learning how to sew,” said one. “I want to buy a sewing machine,” said another. And when word about this program began to spread, some people inquired if a program like this will be offered to adults. According to Jones, offering a beginning sewing class is a topic that will be discussed in an upcoming meeting with the coordinators of the continuing education program at PCC.

The organizers of the summer STEAM camp wish to thank the Caswell County Extension Office and the volunteer auxiliary group, ECA-Anderson Chapter, for loaning the sewing machines to this program and the Caswell County Historical Association for arranging access to tour the buildings in Historic Yanceyville.

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