B'ville: Ray, YMCA shoots for the stars

Students in the Ray Middle School YMCA after-school program recently completed a quilt panel to be used in the Dream Rocket project, an international art collaboration based in Huntsville, Alabama.

The 11 sixth grade students have worked together on the 2ft. by 2ft. panel for the past two months under the direction of YMCA site coordinator Renee Storiale and site assistant, Rose Whitford. Each week, the group added a new component to their American flag design, whether it was brainstorming, sewing, painting or writing.

The completed panel will be sent in to the Dream Rocket project later this month, where it will be added to a quilt of more than 8,000 mixed media panels from all 50 states and at least 100 countries under the watchful eye of artist and project creator, Jennifer Marsh. The quilt will then be used to wrap the 37 story Saturn V Rocket replica at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. This is the same rocket that launched the first astronaut trip to the moon.

"The project has given us a great opportunity to talk about world issues and interdependence," Storiale said. "It's opened their eyes to following their dreams and dreaming the impossible, which the project's theme is based on."

On each stripe of the American flag design, the students wrote their dreams for the future while sticking to the core values of the YMCA program: respect, responsibility, caring and honesty.

"I will ensure freedom by never taking anything for granted," wrote Colin Talty.

"Nothing is impossible, not even going to Mars," wrote Nicholas Barone.

And Maryn Margrey wrote, "The future depends on us!"

All the materials used in making the panel, including the $100 participation fee, were donated. After realizing the high cost of registration, Storiale applied for a scholarship through the Dream Rocket project, which paired the group with sponsor Marie Vaughn.

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