Students are stitching math and art concepts together in a new quilting class offered at Kodiak High School.

Alexis Jackson proposed the class to the high school administrators, and received the go-ahead to create and teach the quilting class.

“I love building things, and this is just building things with a different material,” Jackson said. “I love art and math. It takes all of that and combines into one class.”

Jackson has taught at Kodiak High School since 2001. This year, she is teaching three algebra classes in addition to the quilting class.

She came up with the idea for the class while looking for a way to give students a real application for math skills.

“I was trying to find a way for kids to have that hands-on experience in math,” she said. “You can get that in welding, and you can get that in construction. I felt like quilting just fit right in there with the types of skills that you can learn — a lot of computation, a lot of geometry, a lot of measurement.”

Throughout the year, the students will practice their math skills by creating quilting projects.

“A lot of times in math classes we teach kids how to measure, but until you’re looking at something saying, ‘oh gosh it was supposed to be 15 inches and it’s 14 inches and doesn’t fit,’ until it’s real it doesn’t necessarily stick as well,” Jackson said. “This is that real application.”

Every student creates a design using the same geometric transformation skills. They have already made a wall hanging and a bag, and will also make a baby quilt and a lap quilt, which they design themselves.

Jackson pitched the class idea to the high school administration, wrote the curriculum over the summer, and obtained donations and funding to make it possible.

The Kodiak’s Bear Paw Quilters Guild donated boxes of fabric to the class, which was essential to getting the class going.

“It would have been cost-prohibitive if I didn’t have the donations,” Jackson said. “The school was able to purchase the sewing machines and basic materials knowing it was just a one time cost.”

Each year the class will put together a group quilt that will be raffled to keep the program self-sustaining. Each student will work on a piece of the quilt, and the parts will be sewn together into one big quilt.

There are 15 students in the project-based class this year. The students range from freshmen to seniors, and all are new to quilting. Students learn how to make quilts from start to finish, including choosing the fabric to cutting it safely and stitching it together.

“They struggle at first, then repeat it over and over again until they get it,” Jackson said. “They’re all getting it eventually. They all come in at different levels. I’ve got kids in pre-calculus and algebra one.”

The class is also brainstorming ideas for a community service project.

“Depending on how much extra time they have, we really are thinking about what we can do to the community to give back, whether it’s baby quilts for the women’s resource or bed quilts for the senior center,” Jackson said. “We’re trying to figure out what they want to give back to the community. They really feel wonderful that the community has supported them in this way.”

Contact Mirror writer Nicole Klauss at

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