Students develop the skills to make a feast

December 8, 2008

By Chantelle Lusebrink

 Families dish up their pre-Thanksgiving feast in the Cooking Creates Community project in the Skills Enhancement Program class. Photo by Greg Farrar.Families dish up their pre-Thanksgiving feast in the Cooking Creates Community project in the Skills Enhancement Program class. Photo by Greg Farrar.    

The smells coming from the portable classroom at Issaquah Middle School were more like those coming from the kitchen at a top restaurant. 

Seven students turned their classroom into a restaurant for a pre-Thanksgiving feast for their family and friends Nov. 26.

“He’s been really excited,” said Mindi Bacon, the mother of Khayman Bacon, a 13-year-old in the class. “The fact they are doing this at school for their parents is great, but it’s also an opportunity for parents to meet other parents and to meet the other students.” 

The feast was the culmination of a class project started in September, called Cooking Creates Community.“The program gives the boys a couple of things,” said teacher Joyce Mininger. “One, it builds community and gives them a sense of accomplishment. Two, it gives them lifelong entertaining skills that can also translate into job skills. And three, it is an opportunity for community members to come together and participate at the school and in our program.”

Mininger received a Classroom Enrichment Grant from the Issaquah Schools Foundation to make the project possible for the students in her Skills Enhancement Program. 

That program enriches students’ basic education programming by helping them learn life skills, social interaction, teamwork and goal development.

With help from their teacher, the boys started by identifying what they’d want to serve at their feast, collecting recipes and examining Thanksgiving traditions. After they decided their meal, they tallied up the ingredients they needed to purchase and began cooking.

“For six weeks, we focused entirely on the feast preparations for one period a week – shopping, cooking, preparing decorations, reviewing elements of appropriate hospitality and creating the video,” Mininger said.

“I learned that you need a lot of stuff for it,” Khayman said.

“We walked down to the store every other week to buy ingredients,” Mininger said. “The next week, we’d cook.”

Their cycle of shopping one week and cooking and freezing food the next continued right up to the day of the feast, when the turkey was made. 

The rest of the menu included mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, beans, pumpkin and pecan pies, pumpkin bread, eggnog and apple cider.

“We all took turns making all the food here. Even the cider is homemade,” Khayman said. “We made the eggnog, too. That was very weird, because we put a lot of eggs and milk in. I just didn’t know that was what was in it.”  

But cooking the food wasn’t enough. The boys also created a full video documenting their experiences to show friends and family.

The students also created unique glass centerpieces to decorate their tables for the feast.

The grand finale, though, was the moment the students and their families got to dig in to the feast they’d been preparing for months. 

Each grabbed heaping spoonfuls of their favorites, and pointed to the things they thought their families should try. 

“Definitely this,” student Chase Hill said, pointing to the pumpkin bread. 

“Maybe he can start cooking for me for a change,” Jason Hill, Chase’s stepfather, said with a wide smile. 

The feast also let students reflect on what Thanksgiving is all about.

“My ancestors are Sioux Indian, so it is a very important day for me to remember my ancestors,” Khayman said. 

Reach Reporter Chantelle Lusebrink at 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com. 

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