Maywood students cook up a healthy lifestyle
October 19, 2010
By Laura Geggel
Students typically aren’t allowed to eat in class, but Camille Wright’s class is always talking about food.
During their 50-minute periods, Wright’s seventh- and eighth-grade students are learning about nutrition, food safety or cooking up a storm of flour in Maywood Middle School’s kitchens.
All of Wright’s students have studied and passed the Washington State Department of Health Food Worker exam, and with every passing week they make different recipes, including quesadillas, chocolate chip pumpkin cookies and vegetable stew.
Students took out their measuring cups and spatulas Oct. 5 to make blueberry-zucchini muffins. Many students taking the trimesterlong class said they cooked prior to the class, but had never followed so many recipes.
“We made the best mac and cheese,” Madison Chapman said. “It’s better than the box mac and cheese.”
Maywood teachers taught cooking in the 1970s and 1980s, though the ovens stood vacant for years because the school did not have a cooking teacher available. The school began offering the class again in 2007, and Wright started in 2008.
As students measured and stirred their ingredients Oct. 5, Wright regularly shouted steps to remind them of the time.
“Alright, you should have your mixture in your cupcake pan,” she said, so the muffins would have at least 20 minutes in the oven, and students would have time to wash their mixing bowls.
Wright centered all of the ingredients at a station in the front of the room. The compost was also situated up front, and students peeling zucchinis gathered around it so they could proceed to shredding the vegetable for the muffins.
Students watched a number of safety videos before progressing to confectionery and savory cooking. Emily Person learned to thoroughly wash her hands, especially the web between her thumb and index finger, and Michael Lawless said he learned the best and safest way to use a knife.
“Instead of sawing, you push away,” he said.
The class also studied the food pyramid, and students are recording their food intake in journals. Chapman said she writes down her snacks and meals.
“I found I am low on vegetables,” she said, which has prompted her to eat more carrots and artichokes.
Eighth-grader Nathaniel Weathers said he now drinks more water after food journaling showed him he wasn’t drinking enough, and seventh-grader Jocelyn Tierney said she had switched to fruit for breakfast instead of sugary cereal.
Students pay a $25 fee to take the class, and Wright said she buys in bulk to help keep costs low. Students also spend their own dime every weekend for their home cook assignment, which requires that they make a recipe for their family and bring portions to share with their home groups.
After cooking in school and at home, Tierney said her favorite part was “the cooking part, just mixing it all together. Not the dishwashing part.”
All three periods of Wright’s cooking classes are full, and as the program evolves, she said she hopes to offer introductory and advanced cooking. Students who excel at cooking can register for culinary arts at Liberty High School. Tiger Mountain Community High and Pine Lake Middle schools offer cooking programs, too.
Students often eat their creations in class, “or we’ll eat it at lunch or take it home,” seventh-grade student Hannah Knutson said.
Whatever they do, Wright is glad they are learning their way around the kitchen.
“The whole idea about being in this class is to learn how to follow a recipe,” Wright said. “They’re taking what they learned with me here and they’re taking it home. They have to do everything on their own.”
Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or email@example.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.