The 2009-10 eighth grade class of Cane River Middle School created the quilt square, Down by the River. It is the perfect example of cross curricula teaching, as it is the culmination of six months of geography, history, mathematics, and art. The school’s initials in Cane River’s red and black colors are hidden in the center of the design. The surrounding mountains reflected in the river are represented in shades of gray. The schools Indian heritage is represented by the red and black chevron feather. The square is hung on the front of the school gymnasium facing the highway.
Cane River Middle School has a long history going back to 1958 when Yancey County School System built it as a county high school on ground that hundreds of years ago was the location of a Native American village. The people who occupied the village over several centuries were ancestors of the present-day Cherokee Indians.
A portion of the site was excavated in early 1992 when work to install a new drain field for the septic system beneath the football field uncovered human remains and artifacts. Work was stopped while an emergency archeological dig took place to document the village. Archeologists from the state Dept. of Archives and History and from universities, along with archaeology students, and many local volunteers spent weeks working from dawn until dark to document Yancey County’s first residents. A sampling of artifacts from the site can be seen at the Rush Wray Museum of Yancey County HIstory.
The school is nestled in a valley near the Cane river for which it is named. In 1976, the county merged its two high schools, Cane River and East Yancey, into Mountain Heritage High School. Cane River, along with East Yancey, became award-winning middle schools.
Students were excited about the idea of participating in the quilt square project, and the administration and parents leant their enthusiastic support.
Kelly Boone, eighth grade social studies teacher, was awarded a grant from the Yancey County Schools Foundation to obtain the square. She has taught at Cane River for the last nine years and lived in Yancey County for seventeen. Boone said that she wanted “to provide students with an opportunity to not only learn about their community but to also create a visual reflection of [the school’s] students, community, and heritage.” After a series of lessons on local history, a lecture about the project itself by Barbara Webster, and a Quilt Trail scavenger hunt, ninety per cent of the eighth graders submitted designs. The winning design incorporated the ideas of Kaleb McCurry and Josie Honeycutt; it was titled by Sarah Presnell.
Cane River Middle School and Kelly Boone have added one more example of excellence to the legacy of the school.