Shiloh School gets cookin’

By Samantha Tucker The Prairie Press
Posted 10/7/19

A renovated classroom is making for happy students at Shiloh School.

Family and Consumer Sciences, previously known as home economics, is a subject close to teacher Carolyn McIntyre’s heart. A …

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Shiloh School gets cookin’

Posted

A renovated classroom is making for happy students at Shiloh School.

Family and Consumer Sciences, previously known as home economics, is a subject close to teacher Carolyn McIntyre’s heart. A semi-retired teacher at Shiloh School, McIntyre uses the curriculum to teach kids about food and nutrition while providing opportunities to learn valuable cooking skills using the school’s own classroom kitchens. Until recently though, dated equipment made this harder than it should have been.

“In 2019, the school turned 50 years old. The kitchen was a hodgepodge of cabinetry and appliances, some of which were also 50 years old,” explained McIntyre. Thus, the Shiloh school board was inspired to pursue a renovation.

Shiloh School benefits from a 1 percent sales tax in Douglas and Edgar counties, so replacing parts of the dated kitchen was possible, but the tax alone was not enough to both cover new appliances and cabinetry. Expenses ran higher than updating a single kitchen, since the space needed multiple ovens, stovetops and sinks to accommodate groups of students.

Fortunately, McIntyre knew just where to turn. The Edgar County Community Foundation (ECCF) and Shiloh have a history of cooperation – earlier this year, friends of the ECCF donated $500 to assist three student members of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) in attending a conference in Anaheim, California. The organization was more than happy to pitch in again, and McIntyre secured the rest of the money by writing a grant through the ECCF for $1,800. Renovations progressed quickly after that and the new classroom was finished Aug. 1, to the delight of students and staff alike.

The new classroom is divided into four kitchenettes with new ovens, stovetops, microwaves, sturdy tables and plentiful cabinets. Cooking operations are supplied by two refrigerators. McIntyre is pleased to report the space now accommodates more students than before.

The classroom is also brighter now making it easier for everyone to read recipes and see what they are doing. Her students helped her organize the cabinets more efficiently by arranging color-coded index cards inside the cabinet doors, telling young cooks where their supplies are and helping pots and pans return to their proper places when everything is done.

So far the school as a whole has enjoyed its new, modern kitchens. The room was recently utilized by second and third graders for a farm-to-table project, and the National Honors Society and Junior Beta used it to prepare food for the annual Grandparents Breakfast.

“And I think, without a doubt, everyone is very proud of how this project turned out,” McIntyre says.

Her seventh grade class seems to agree. The smells of fresh popcorn and hot sugar permeated the air Tuesday, Oct. 1 as they worked in teams to whip up caramel corn from scratch.

After getting a rundown of the recipe from McIntyre, everyone divided up into three of the four kitchen stations. Step one was measuring popcorn kernels and popping a whopping 16 cups worth of corn per group, followed by melting sugar, corn syrup and butter on the stovetop to make a homemade caramel drizzle. The room was full of chatter and the occasional crunch of stolen popcorn, but all the students took their work seriously, stirring pots, preheating their ovens and greasing cookie sheets. Once their caramels began bubbling up the sides of the pots, it was ready to pour over the popcorn, and the whole sticky mixture went straight into the ovens.

According to McIntyre, this was the first time the kids were using the ovens and stovetops in tandem, and she hopes to help them work their way up to baking cookies before the year is done.

The importance of Family and Consumer Sciences goes beyond baking seasonal treats during class time. Its focus on nutrition and food preparation has a palpable impact on kids, and what they learn often follows them home. McIntyre’s students have told her their budding culinary confidence inspired them to help with food preparation at home, and when they eat out, they look at fast food menus with an eye for nutritional value.

“It gives them a lot of life skills,” McIntyre said.