One teacher is helping to foster a close-knit community for girls and women at Mount Everett Regional High School.
Elizabeth Kuzmech teaches math for special education students in Grades 7 through 12 but she wanted to offer all students at the school, particularly girls, an opportunity for them to "have more of a community."
Each Thursday, female students, as well as staff members, filter into a classroom, grab a snack and a skein of yarn. As conversation begins to flow, so does the handiwork, both knitting and crocheting.
The group's focus is stitching together squares to be used for making blankets, which the group plans to donate to pediatric patients at Berkshire Medical Center. Nearly all the materials have been donated to the club by members of the school community.
"It's really relaxing, and it feels good to know that you can donate your work," said seventh-grader Liz Kuzmech, the teacher's daughter.
Elizabeth Kuzmech said that a paraprofessional, who also serves as a bus monitor, brings her yarn and needles on the bus and has already produced four blankets.
"It's so much fun," said Georgia Drumm, an eighth-grader who came to the club with a knitting background and is now moving along quickly, having learned how to crochet with the group. She's even designed her own kind of stitching pattern.
Over the gentle rhythm of stitching, the group quietly talks about their days, projects coming up at school and new ideas for other things to knit.
As a math teacher, Elizabeth Kuzmech said she's impressed with the students' dedication and ability to pick up the craft. She said one girl, a senior, has taken a little longer to learn the process and sometimes gets frustrated, "but she comes every week. I'm really proud of her," the teacher said.
The educator said that as the project continues, she hopes more students will be interested in coming to learn and to help.
"Boys are welcome to come too," she said. "We want to include everybody."