At Bryant Woods Elementary, a collective sweet tooth and children's tomes are a delicious recipe for literacy

Youths are treated to a good read

December 19, 2007|By John-John Williams IV | John-John Williams IV,Sun reporter

Sixty awe-struck second-graders from Bryant Woods Elementary in Columbia saw their favorite books brought to life this week through culinary artistry by Wilde Lake High School students.

The annual activity that mixes gingerbread-house-like creations with storytelling was a chance for Wilde Lake students to flex their culinary muscles while stressing an appreciation for reading and high school.

"I really wanted to do something that encouraged reading," said Yvonne Lund, who heads the school's Culinary Academy. Bryant Woods students "get really excited about coming to Wilde Lake. It really helps to solidify the neighborhood," she said.

Using graham crackers, icing and other foods such as breakfast cereal, Lund's students created scenes from classic childhood books such as the Madeline series, the Miss Nelson series and The Polar Express. Books inspired by popular movies such as Cars, Aladdin, and The Lion King were also were used.

The culinary artists then read to the Bryant Woods students from the books that inspired the scenes.

Lund started the event six years ago. Now, she said, it is an automatic activity.

"I don't have to formally invite them anymore," Lund said. "[Jamie Sharfstein] calls me to tell me what day works for them."

Sharfstein, a second-grade teacher at Bryant Woods, said her students value the interaction with the Wilde Lake High School students.

"The students are amazed," she said, as she pointed to a cluster of her second-graders who listened intently to Wilde Lake's Ashley Johnson explain how she constructed a castle out of graham crackers and frosting. "Look at them concentrating on what [the Wilde Lake student] is doing."

Johnson, a 17-year-old senior, read from a book in the My Little Pony series. Staying true to the book, she created a fluorescent pink castle that protected a private birthday party.

"Once you get to high school, teachers expect you to read more," she said. "[Reading] helps you formulate questions and it helps with creativity."

Alex Hart, 14, a freshman at Wilde Lake, worked with a partner, Dana Vandergracht, for four weeks to create a castle that was inspired by an Aladdin book.

"I think it's fun to get them interested in reading," said Hart, who spent most of the morning captivating his young charges with his friendly disposition.

"There's Aladdin," Hart said as he pointed to the character in a book that he held with his other hand. "He's just trying to make it in life."

Randy Santiago, 7, was enthralled by Aladdin's castle.

"It looks nice," he said. "It's got the genie. It's colorful."

Paul Vonbuhr, 7, also was a fan of the castle. "It was big," he said.

Tyeteona Harding, 8, wanted to eat a re-creation of the Lion King."It looks so yummy, tasty," she said. "It looks so delicious."

Some Bryant Woods students got into the activity so much that they began to read the books to the high-schoolers.

Darius Koropeckyj, 7, read part of a Sponge Bob Square Pants book aloud so he could better comprehend the story. "I haven't read [that] story [before]," he said.

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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