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SHIRLEY — First-graders at Lura A. White School expressed their holiday creativity by creating gingerbread houses in their classrooms.

Baking gingerbread has been a tradition since the 11th century in Europe, according to online sources.

In England, gingerbread was common to fairgrounds. Thus, the confections were known as “fairings.”

The custom of making houses out of the spiced concoctions originated in Germany. It was made popular by the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel.”

In some German towns, citizens make gingerbread replicas of their own houses. Each replica is called a lebkuchen. Those houses are then assembled at a central location to create a miniaturized version each town or village.

The students at Lura White didn’t create replicas of their homes during the project done Dec. 18. Instead, they crafted structures decorated with white icing and brightly colored treats, like licorice, M&Ms and gumdrops.

“This is so fun, and I know it’s going to taste good,” said Jillian Deshler, 7.

Deshler’s father, Al, came to help with the decorating.

“I like working with the kids and getting involved in the school, and this is a fun way to do that,” he said.

LAW Principal Suzanne Mahoney said she was pleased with the turnout of parent volunteers. She said she loves that making gingerbread houses has become a tradition at the school.

As the children used frosting to affix chocolate chips to the graham-cracker roofs of their houses, there was holiday music playing in the background. One first-grade teacher, Andree Lambert, was even wearing a festive Mrs. Claus apron to get people in the holiday mood.

First-grader Ashlyn Prehl’s father, Eric, had an added bonus for the students that day. Eric, a baker at Littleton’s Donelan’s Supermarkets, kept himself busy yesterday by making 100 gingerbread men for the first-graders to decorate. Donelan’s donated all of the decorations and individual bags of icing to make the gingerbread people come to life.

“This is great community service for me and for my company,” Eric said. “We were happy to do it.”