Writer / Megan Jefferson

Photography Provided

Art is everywhere. Any material can be used to create impactful artwork. Center Grove High School students are learning this first hand in the Fashion and Textile class. Students have been busy learning, creating and using a rather unconventional material — newspaper.

Teacher, Lesley Stevens, has been teaching Family and Consumer Science classes for 16 years. She’s now in her third year teaching at Center Grove High School and serves as the Department Chair of the Family and Consumer Science Department.

Stevens has a passion for the Fashion and Textile courses. She designed a multi-faceted project that allows students to incorporate and analyze design principles but also teaches them how clothing is constructed. The students work collaboratively in groups to create dresses out of newspaper.

The learning objective for the lesson incorporated elements and principles of design. The students chose a specific design element and first sketched their ideas and creations.

“Some of the sketches blew me away,” Stevens says. “And that’s when I knew this project was going to be really fun.”

Students were given the same amount of time and supplies to create their dresses. Project Runway was watched for inspiration. When issues arose, the classmates experimented and came up with solutions.

“Even though the dresses weren’t sewn together, the students had to figure out which pieces to construct first and how to make the garment look sewn,” Stevens says. “The critical thinking that occurred while constructing the dresses was really phenomenal. They had to restart certain sections if they got ahead of themselves or rethink and remake certain garment features. This also tested their communication skills while working as part of a team.”

The groups with many leaders found they struggled the most with time management and decision making, while the teams that had one leader and group members that felt heard and appreciated seemed to create a dress that came together easily and looked phenomenal.

Stevens looks forward to doing this project again and would love to find a place in the community to showcase the works.

Working with teenagers is another of Steven’s passions. She loves seeing students find a passion for something and running with it. When a student tells her that they asked for a sewing machine for Christmas or their birthday, it makes her proud.

“Sewing isn’t just a life skill, it is a creative outlet for many students,” Stevens says. “I have students of all ages and ability levels. I see students that may fail in some classes, but we’re all on a level playing field when it comes to sewing. I am starting to get more males to enroll in the classes as the interest in graphic design or owning a clothing brand is becoming more popular. The sewing machine or sketchbook doesn’t care if you’re male or female. It’s all about problem solving, creativity, patience and tenacity.”

Family and Consumer Science classes teach important life skills. Students learn how to sew on a button, how to budget time, money and resources, how to host large events and entertain guests, how to cook a meal for yourself or your family, how to decorate on a budget, how to buy a car or home, how to work with babies and children and how to live the healthiest life possible, both physically and emotionally.

“I’m proud to be a FACS teacher and blessed to work with other teachers who genuinely care about students and want to teach them the skills to be self-sufficient and contributing members of society,” Stevens adds.