TOWNSEND -- What does making bread have to do with going to school? As it turns out, quite a bit.
Students at Hawthorne Brook Middle School got an aromatic lesson that included all sorts of academic and real-life skills during the Learn Bake Share Program on Feb. 25.
Students from grades 5 and 6 met with Amy Driscoll, an educator and baker from King Arthur Flour. They discovered that successful baking involves math, science, following directions and even problem-solving.
During each of the two 50-minute programs, two students helped the master baker. More than 250 kids learned the skills and some of the art needed to be a great baker. Baking bread provides a real-life application for the math, science and reading skills the students are constantly working on, said Sandi Shepherd-Gay, assistant principal.
As part of the free program sponsored by King Arthur Flour, each student took home the materials needed to bake two loaves of bread from scratch: a recipe booklet, dough scraper, yeast and a plastic bag with a tie for the completed bread. Hannaford's of Townsend supplied the sacks to transport the supplies home.
Over the weekend, students practiced their new craft. Their goal was to make two loaves of bread; one to eat and one to donate.
The next Monday, the bakers showed up with more than 200 loaves to donate. "The kids were so excited," Shepherd-Gay said, as they talked and chattered about what they had accomplished. The majority of the new bakers never realized that bread can be made at home.
Baking bread to give to others fits in with another part of the curriculum at Hawthorne Brook. The school improvement plan calls for increasing the opportunities for service learning and promoting collaboration with the community, Shepherd-Gay said.
Most of the bread went down the road to Atwood Acres and Townsend Woods; each resident of the subsidized housing facility for low-income seniors and the mobility impaired received two loaves.
"It was such a nice thing for the people here," said Maribeth Conrad, property manager. Residents rarely have homemade bread, and were able to freeze one of their loaves for later.
One resident, Jim Capen, was so pleased "he'd like to have these kids all the time because the bread was so fantastic," Conrad said.
The remaining donations were given to the Townsend Fire/EMS Department and the Townsend and Ashby Police Departments.
Students, teachers and families raved about the program. That weekend, Facebook feeds filled with pictures and comments about the new bakers, said Suzanne LaBombard, who organized the event.
LaBombard no longer has a child at the school, but suggested the baking program to Shepherd-Gay.
"The hope is that the kids have now gained the confidence to continue baking for themselves and sharing with others," LaBombard said.