Tuesday, a group of talented Pinellas County citizens who call themselves the "Largo Crackers Quilters Guild" will present a collaborative work of art to the Pinellas County School Board in honor of a historic milestone.
Thousands of stitches, hundreds of volunteer hours, and a lifetime of memories went into making a special quilt to commemorate Pinellas County Schools “100 Years of Excellence in Education.”
The quilters would gather each Monday to sew and to reminisce. These 13 members of the Largo Crackers Quilters Guild -some of whom are district graduates- shared a common goal; to honor the district’s heritage, its’ students, teachers, staff, administrators, superintendents, and Board members.
As they stitched, quilting member, 87-year-old Bettie Mease, recounted by-gone tales from her childhood as a Pinellas County Schools student. Her formal education began in 1930 in downtown Clearwater at a 15-year-old brick schoolhouse known as North Ward Elementary. The PTA was very active, planting trees and shrubs, enclosing the cafeteria with glass to keep the rain out and meals dry, painting furniture, and collecting money to help with the community relief project.
Mease went on to attend Clearwater Junior High and graduated from Clearwater High in 1941. Her education was intermixed with real world dramatic events that affected her life and everyone else; the Great Depression and the attack on Pearl Harbor forcing America into World War II.
Many of the district’s schools were named selective service registration sites, and assembly points for civil defense. Teachers assisted young men with filling out proper forms on Draft Registration Day and they took first aid courses.
Annette Attaway-Kocsis, 1958 Largo High graduate and quilting member, had different school experiences nearly two decades later. She got to transition to a new campus when the current Missouri Avenue school opened its doors in 1957. School spirit was a big part of campus life back then. Bonfires, parades with the Largo Band of Gold, and friendly class competition took place before homecoming.
The Centennial Quilt started out as an idea with the Centennial Committee, then grew into a labor of love for the quilters. Each panel displays the district’s heritage throughout the decades.
If you visit the Administration Building at 301 Fourth St in Largo, you can see the quilt. Look closely at the stitching, there are hidden things stitched into the fabric. For example, in the upper right hand corner of the Uncle Sam (1940’s) block is a soldier.
Largo Crackers Quilters Guild Members who contributed to the Centennial Quilt include:
- Susan Cobb
- Janet Fishman
- Marva Gurley
- Barbara Herbransen
- Marlene Hooten
- Shawn Hooten
- Jane Jacobsen
- Carolyn Kavunedus
- Annette Attaway-Kocsis
- Bettie Mease
- Nancy Nelson
- Jane Sanchez
- Joan Scaffidi
Thanks to Pinellas County Schools for sending us this information and the accompanying photo.