`Everyone should be able to eat something'

6th-graders cook for poor

May 18, 2007|By John-John Williams IV | John-John Williams IV,sun reporter

Bo Briguglio and Gianni Thompson stood over a pot of steaming water with anticipation as tiny bubbles started jetting to the top.

As the water reached a rolling boil, Gianni poured in a package of uncooked pasta. Bo dumped a stick of margarine into a skillet and started working on the cheese sauce for the finished product: baked macaroni and cheese.

Although the two Dunloggin Middle School sixth-grade boys were in the midst of their family consumer science class, they also were learning an important lesson in giving.

This week, the 26 casserole pans that the students in Ellen DeCaro's six classes were whipping up went to Our Daily Bread, a Baltimore soup kitchen that serves nearly 800 people a day.

"It's a good idea," Bo said as he stirred in flour and shredded cheese to the chopped onions that were sauteing in the melted margarine. "Everyone should be able to eat something."

DeCaro, a first-year teacher, came up with the idea so that students could learn more about community service. In addition to the food, DeCaro's students have made pillows during a sewing lesson, which were then given to cancer patients.

"I hope that they will remember this as they get older," said DeCaro, 48, who came to Dunloggin after running a manufacturing company and working in sales.

The cooking lesson has made an impression on Lorraine Gibson, 11.

"Helping the homeless is the best part," the sixth-grader said as her group put their macaroni and cheese dish in the oven. "Everyone deserves to have a meal."

Lori Willoughby, Dunloggin's assistant principal, said DeCaro's enthusiasm and unique concept have caught on. After learning about DeCaro's initiative, other home economics teachers in the school system have started to donate the food from their classes, as well.

"It's a fabulous experience," Willoughby said. "This is the first time - as an 11- or 12-year-old - that they think about other people. They wouldn't have that without her. It opens their eyes."

DeCaro's work was recently recognized when she was nominated for Howard County's New Teacher of the Year award.

"She's dedicated to our students," Willoughby said. "She gives them a perspective to how it helps the community."

Meanwhile, Bo and Gianni put their suspiciously watery-looking mixture into the oven. But they had forgotten the breadcrumbs. Bo grabbed the pan out of the oven, added the last ingredient, then put the casserole pan into the oven for the final time.

At the same time, Lorraine and her group were sitting down to a table to sample their finished dish.

"It's delicious," Lorraine said, after taking a bite. "It's the best thing I've ever tasted. Seriously."

DeCaro quickly explained that the students get only a small sampling of what they have cooked.

"They have to feed the homeless; not themselves," she said.

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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