Fifth graders took time out of their academic day to enjoy a fun holiday activity with family and friends yesterday, making gingerbread houses at the Allen W. Roberts Elementary School cafeteria.
The cafeteria was bustling with activity as 84 excited and talkative children busily worked on their creations, as the aroma of frosting and sugar permeated through the room.
"It's a fun time during the year where the parents and the kids can really get together in a light setting outside of an educational atmosphere," said AWR Principal Michael J. Barcadepone. "What I find interesting to watch is that some kids are so meticulous with their houses and others just slop everything on. But really it is just a nice time to get everyone together and see kids with smiles on their faces as well as the parents."
Each child brought in a pint carton to form the base of the house and a container of frosting to use as the glue and décor. Graham crackers created the walls and roofs of the houses and upside down ice cream cones created the surrounding trees or imaginative roof tops.
The houses were enhanced with a variety of notions such as licorice, Hershey kisses, marshmallows, pretzels, lollipops, coconut, Skittles, Life Savers, Peppermints and colorful gum drops. Restrictions were no peanuts or tree nuts in the ingredients. After a thorough check by teachers, the supplies were shared among the fifth grade students.
At the end of the activity, no two houses looked alike.
Fifth grade student Lindley Hall called her decorative gingerbread house creation and Christmas tree adorned with red licorice garland "colorful town." When asked if she liked having her Mom, Suzanne, she smiled and gave an affirmative "Yes." Mom smiled back and said, "Good answer."
Mom, Linda De George, took time out of her work day to attend the event.
"It's been a tradition for a number of years and the kids really look forward to it. The kids really enjoy seeing their parents here. It's a lot of fun for them," De George said.
The event was organized by the fifth grade teachers: Carol Worswick, James Bullaro, David Milligan, Jessica Malangone and Laura Damico, who co-teaches with Worswick and Bullaro.
Former fifth grade teacher Dierdre Dreyer started the event ten years ago and it has been an annual tradition ever since.
Worswick observed the benefits of the activity for the students. "It's a great activity where the kids get to share, enjoy and socialize on an even basis in a light atmosphere. No stress. No pressure," Worswick said.
To prepare for the event, teachers sent a notice home with the students, informing families that it is an open house and students can invite anyone whom they would like to come to the event.
To collect candy donations, room parents recruited other parents to donate supplies or time to help out at the event. A group of parent volunteers set up the tables and supplies beforehand, helped the children during the event and cleaned up afterwards.
"[Fifth grade is] a really big transition year," Malangone said. "It's a really great way for us to reward their efforts. This class in particular has really exceeded our expectations."