Twice a week up to 30 Whiteaker Middle School students head to a classroom before regular classes begin. Sixth, seventh and eighth grade boys and girls gather for the Craft Club at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday and Thursdays.
Craft Club is not a class, there are no credits offered. Teacher Sundey Turney and special program instruction assistant Shawna Dolph lead the club.
Craft Club was born from an idea. Turney started the Stitch Club when schools were under distance learning during the COVID pandemic.
“When we came back in person, Michelle Hussman (another special program instruction assistant) talked about starting a club for scrapbooking and card making”said Dolph. “I had my club and Sundey had her club. And then we decided, why don’t we just combine them. And now it’s just exploded.”
The club attendance is capped at 30 students and there is a waiting list for new club members.
Club members are not told what crafts to make; what to create is up to each individual student. Members have worked on jewelry, crocheting and knitting, scrapbooking, card making, painting and drawing.
One student recently completed a crocheted cardigan sweater. Dolph related that a blind student made a blanket.
The classroom used by the craft club is filled with tubs and closets full of fabric remnants, sewing supplies, yarn and every tool needed to make crafts.
Some club members have sold their crafts at Salem’s Saturday Market.
Much of the craft-making supplies and sewing machines have been donated by business and the community.At the end of the last school year, club members created tie-dyed t-shirts. The supplies were donated by Michaels.
The outcome of the crafts made by the club is limited only by the creative imaginations of the students.
And the students want to be in the club. “They’re awesome kids,” said Dolph. “They are very helpful, very caring, very generous. They’ll help each other out, support each other.”