In 1996, Deacon John Wocken, 2nd grade teacher at St. Katharine Drexel School, created his first classroom quilt. What started off as a challenge Wocken wanted to conquer evolved into 29 years of learning and creating with students.

“I wanted to see if my class could do it,” Wocken said. “When I envisioned doing this, it was more about the challenge;
wanting to complete a classroom quilt without knowing if it was even possible to do with elementary school students. There was a little hesitation and worry at the time that students may hurt themselves, but one of the learning benefits of this project is having young children understand safety measures and use caution. In all the years I’ve made quilts with classes, there were no student injuries.”

The potential risks were outweighed by all of the numerous benefits.

“Having the students work together on a quilt teaches them many valuable lessons,” explained Deacon Wocken. “It is not only an art activity that requires them to understand contrasting colors and pattern design, but it also involves math and geometry to sew triangles together. They are learning the complex steps involved in creating a quilt, life skills of using a sewing machine and iron safely, and the significance of teamwork. I love seeing the students’ faces when they view the final quilt and see a bit of themselves in the final product after being involved in every step along the way. The project emphasizes that we can make something beautiful when we work together.”

One of his students, Liam Thomas Velline who graduated from St. Katharine Drexel in 2016, remembers his time with his 2nd grade teacher fondly saying, “Deacon Wocken was an amazing teacher. He was someone that genuinely made me excited to wake up and go to school. Working with him on different class projects, and specifically the class quilt, was always a very fun and rewarding experience!”

Another student, Taylor Kroll who graduate from St. Katharine Drexel School in 2017, added further praise for his former teacher saying, “Deacon Wocken was very unique. He approached every class with a great attitude and always made us smile. His quilting project was very fun as it gave us a new spark of creativity. He was a great teacher!”

$10,840 raised in quilt auction to benefit SKD student scholarships!

Olivia Beste, a 2016 St. Katharine Drexel School graduate, said, “Deacon Wocken is a kind man and cares a lot about the community of St. Katharine Drexel. These quilts have touched many people’s lives.”

And they will continue to touch lives. Deacon Wocken just completed his final classroom quilt before he retires from
teaching at the end of this school year. He is auctioning off the quilts he has made over the years with his students to raise funds for student scholarships. If enough funds are raised, he plans on creating an endowed fund for St. Katharine Drexel student scholarships that will assist students, year after year, indefinitely.

“After 29 years at SKD, I wanted to share the incredible creations with the wider community and, in doing so, give back to the school that has provided me with so much joy.”

The online auction is now closed, but you can still make a donation towards the cause.  Visit https:// to view and bid on them today!

Quilt Auction