Heartfelt History Woven Into Alumna-Employee's Centennial Keepsake

Published 03.27.2014

Alumni News
Faculty & Staff

When the Susquehanna Valley Quilters suggested that members follow a historical theme at this year's show, Christine E. Atkins thought a lot about how she would construct her entry. But she didn't have to think twice about her subject.

Mindful that the quilt show coincided with Penn College's 2014 Centennial, Atkins – whose personal history intersects with the institution's at several points along the timeline – chose a commemorative creation.

Christine E. Atkins delivers her Centennial quilt to President Davie Jane Gilmour, who assists in its display.A graduate in business management (1986) and information technology: data communications and networking concentration (1997), Atkins is the coordinator of network accounts for Information Technology Services. Adding to her campus connection, she attended high school 50 years ago in what is now the landmark Klump Academic Center.

Old Glory – which Atkins' great-nephew calls "Aunt Chris' big flag" – occupies a prominent position on the quilted landscape.With a crafter's eye that's second to none, Atkins methodically set about her work, gathering campus photos to help her envision the final layout.

And with a charitable spirit that's second nature, she knew from the start that she would turn her labor of love into a one-of-a-kind birthday present.

“The amount of work and creativity that went into this project is extraordinary," said college President Davie Jane Gilmour, who was presented with the quilt earlier this month. "It’s a truly special gift, and we’re so pleased that Chris took the time to honor the institution in this way.”

A photo of Klump Academic Center forms a fitting background to the quilt label.At more than 16 square feet, the quilt is a colorfully sprawling depiction of Penn College and its off-campus locations.

More than 25 photos simultaneously celebrate the college and honor its Williamsport Technical Institute and Williamsport Area Community College predecessors. Printed onto fabric, they form a border around a handcrafted likeness of the main entrance off Maynard Street.

The artist holds up her end while President Gilmour takes a closer look.While the occasion merited a big-picture approach, Atkins enjoyed the little touches, as well: Finding just the right material to simulate brickwork on the gateway pillars, fashioning trees from model-railroad greenery, forging a wrought-iron fence from black cord, employing floral sticks to replicate the spray from a water fountain and – adding a detail that no true Penn College representation could ignore – raising a big ol' American flag in the center of it all.

There have been obvious changes to the campus footprint over the years, but apparently not so many as to render one's alma mater unrecognizable. When the quilt was displayed at the Hughesville Fire Hall during the Feb. 28-March 2 show, Atkins heard a visitor proudly say, "That's where I went to school!"

The quilt will be on full public view in the Madigan Library during the college's Open House on Saturday, then displayed in a prominent location.