Saturday, February 1, 2003

Mariemont diversity quilt spreads to permanent display

By Anna Guido
Enquirer contributor

[photo] Leigh Ebelhar, (from left) Suzie Augsburger, Kori Burdo and Claire Keys are among a group of of Mariemont High School students who created the diversity quilt.
(Tony Jones photo)
| ZOOM |
MARIEMONT - The inspiration was Black History Month, which begins today, but the diversity quilt at Mariemont High School was such a hit it will soon be permanently displayed at the school.

"The quilt literally took on a life of its own," said Cheryl Toepfer, an English teacher at the 493-student school. "We decided to show our continual commitment to diversity and place it under glass for permanent display."

The diversity quilt, which honors the contributions of 25 African-Americans, was created by 23 juniors and seniors as an outreach of the 11th-grade English multicultural unit.

Only 4 percent of Mariemont's students are minorities, so "we're not as diverse as the inner-city schools," said Julian Getachew, 17, a senior from Terrace Park who is part Ethiopian. "This promotes diversity and shows how all the kids here are pro-diversity."

Among those honored on the quilt is the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"He had a great impact on setting projects in motion that would ultimately result in African-Americans being more equal to Caucasians and other races," said junior Sam Howles, 16, of Fairfax.

Black History Month was established in 1976. It is an outgrowth of Negro History Week, which was established in 1926 to honor the accomplishments of African-Americans.

The Mariemont students started the quilt project in September. They chose who would be honored, then applied to be one of the artists to help make the quilt.

"They tried to choose people representative of a variety of walks of life," Toepfer said. Toepfer, English teacher Lee Lowery and art teachers Julia Lair and Susie Mahan headed the project. "A lot of the African-Americans picked for the quilt are obvious choices, but I tend to favor the ones who are in the entertainment industry," said junior Alexandra Ebel, 17, of Terrace Park.

"Oprah Winfrey, Sidney Poitier and Spike Lee - they're all on the quilt."

The project was funded with a Greater Cincinnati Foundation Learning Links mini-grant.


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