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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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School Project Is Quite A Yarn

A tapestry of ocean waves is rising in the hallway of Trentwood Elementary.

It’s a weaving project and a labor of love, pattern and color.

The “loom” looks something like a rectangular harp, framed in scrap lumber and strung with light nylon cord. There are no moving parts, except the weavers’ fingers and the yarn. Deborah Harder, one of two women who masterminded the weaving, keeps the equipment simple on purpose.

“It teaches kids that you don’t have to have a lot of money or fancy equipment to be creative,” Harder said.

Weavers use one ball of yarn at a time, plucking every other string and passing the yarn through - over, under, over, under. Some children get hooked on working with patterns and colors. The frame is about nine feet long and four feet high. With 30 strands of mostly blues and greens going at once, easily five or six kids can weave at a time.

“Some of the kids go crazy with it. You can’t pry them off it,” said Harder, who is the mother of three children, two of whom attend Trentwood. Her partner in the project, Barb Gwen, has been sidelined with pneumonia.

Students come to weave with Harder for a few minutes at lunchtime or recess. Third-grader Jake Mehrens and his sister, Sarah, a seventh-grader at East Valley Middle School, weave every day after school. Teachers also can sign up their classes to work on the weaving for a week at a time.

Sarah got involved because she stops at Trentwood to pick up her younger brother. She likes the weaving for a couple of reasons.

“It’s calming, especially if I’ve had a hard day,” she said. “I like watching the colors and watching it develop.”

The ocean pattern first was drawn by several fifth-graders. Their paper pattern, or cartoon, hangs from the back of the loom. The young crafters have woven about a foot deep so far. Harder may have her work cut out for her, ensuring that the kids follow the pattern. She’s discovered a “hidden object” in the original. “Don’t tell what it is. It’s supposed to be a secret,” Harder said.

One morning last week, five little bodies sat lined up in front of the loom: fifth-graders Phuong Huynh and Anneliese Bonertz, third-graders Ivan Kushnerchuk and Jake Mehrens, and fourth-grader Tiffany Bownan. Each chose weaving, instead of recess.

Custodian Jay Helms stopped in the hallway to admire their progress.

“How many hours do you figure you have in this so far? It’s real laborous, isn’t it?” he said. Harder estimated she works 14 to 20 hours a week on the weaving.

“I’ll bet there’s a 1,000 hours in it before you’re done,” Helms said.

CV superintendent search

The Central Valley School Board has called a special meeting today at 1:30 p.m. to update the community on the search for a new superintendent.

Under a schedule announced last fall for the search process, the school board is to interview four to six candidates on March 2 and 3. The district received 55 applications for the position.

Prize for patriotic papers

The Veterans of Foreign Wars has announced winners of their essay contest: Marie Michalski, an East Valley Middle School eighth-grader, won first for her essay on patriotism at the state, district and local levels. Her state victory netted her a plaque and $50.

Other East Valley winners include Brandy Gillmore, East Valley High School freshman, Season Prishont, Trent Elementary fifth-grader, Michael Svoboda and Ben Wick, both eighth-graders at East Valley Middle School.

Quote of the week

At East Valley’s School Board meeting last week, chairman June Sine was offering words of appreciation to volunteers for the bond and levy campaign.

Among others, Sine singled out Terry Daniels, campaign finance chairman. “She works hand in hand with (school district business manager) Tom Crouch. But she’s the one who really knows what she’s doing.” Gee, should the district look for a new number cruncher?

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

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