Blackwell students turn sweet treats into art

December 18, 2013

By Administrator

If anyone strolling through the library at Blackwell Elementary School wasn’t filled with holiday spirit, Julie Sanders probably perked them right up.

Sanders, the mother of a sixth-grade student, was the architect of the school’s inaugural gingerbread building contest last year.

She organized its return Dec. 13, and she helped guide Blackwell students and parents through a maze of houses, cabins, barns and other structures made from the traditional holiday treat.

Fifth-grader Will Fletcher and second-grader Sam Fletcher let their 12th Man spirit fly by creating a replica of the Seattle Seahawks’ stadium for Blackwell Elementary’s gingerbread house contest.  Photo by Neil Pierson

Fifth-grader Will Fletcher and second-grader Sam Fletcher let their 12th Man spirit fly by creating a replica of the Seattle Seahawks’ stadium for Blackwell Elementary’s gingerbread house contest. Photo by Neil Pierson

Sanders did it all while wearing a splendid green, white and red elf costume, drawing plenty of smiles and giggles from the children.

“This is my baby,” said Sanders, who studied art in college. “I believe in this, bringing art to the school.”

Last year, she said, the school hadn’t come up with a Christmas-oriented celebration, so she approached the PTA and former principal Mike Anderson with the idea of letting students make gingerbread art.

This year, she had to convince new principal Jim Eaton the project was a worthwhile idea. Participation seemed to indicate it was – entries ballooned from 32 to 65, and with siblings working together, there may have been 75 or 80 students involved, nearly 20 percent of the school’s enrollment.

Although every child got a small prize for simply participating, the competition aspect was ratcheted up a notch this year. Students were allowed to vote for a favorite creation in their grade, and the top-three finishers in each class are having their work on display at Sammamish City Hall through Dec. 20.

The contest brought out the best in Blackwell’s creative minds. A second-grader created a model of the Space Needle.

Two brothers built a replica of CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks. And there were dozens of houses of various sizes, shapes and colors – some in a traditional vein, others more non-traditional.

There was one hard and fast rule, Sanders said. The creations had to be made of 75 percent gingerbread, rather than graham crackers or other materials. She also wanted to center the event around students.

“Last year, we let the teachers compete, but they were so great we had to take them out,” Sanders said.

Two other Lake Washington district elementary schools – Alcott and Mead – were having similar events this winter, Sanders said.

Eaton said the contest embodied the type of feel-good event a school strives for during the holiday season.

“(Sanders) put on a great show as far as making it a community event, where kids and families had the opportunity to showcase some of their art talents, and build creations that are reflective of who they are,” Eaton said.

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