Those of you who have been reading my blog for a year or so might remember that on the last day of school last June, I spent the day cooking Haitian food with my Grade 6 class, to end their unit about Haitian culture and cuisine. Whilst it seemed a little chaotic on the day, I was so impressed with how well the boys responded to the Haitian unit in general and the cooking in particular that I decided to make this unit bigger and better this year.
Again, we wrote letters to the children of St Vincent’s School and this year we received responses. We were all totally amazed when one day in early May, a large envelope arrived containing letters for every boy in Grade 6 (and then some – and some boys received more than one!). Having prepared the boys for the possibility that we might not get replies to their carefully crafted letters, this was indeed, a most delightful surprise!
Earlier in term 2, the boys and I had planned on a bake sale to raise funds to send to St Vincent’s School and I had the idea to make it a “cupcake only” bake sale, using recipes from Susana Molinolo’s “Cupcakes for Haiti” recipe book. Molinolo felt compelled to do something help the thousands of Haitians who lost everything as a result of the devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck the island nation on January 12, 2010. A little over a week later, on January 23rd, Molinolo hosted a cupcake sale on the front lawn of her home in the Beaches. More than 30 people contributed cupcakes to the event, which raised more than $11,000 in just four hours, helped along by the the generosity of a small group of bicycle-riding philanthropists called “Les Domestiques” who donated $5,000. The funds were matched by the Canadian International Development Agency, and were directed towards Doctors Without Borders (DWB)/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Canada as well as FINCA Canada, the international micro-finance charity that provides loans to small business owners around the globe. But the bake sale turned into an ongoing project and eight months later, Molinolo launched the Cupcakes for Haiti cookbook, featuring a forward by celebrity chef Lynn Crawford. (thanks to this article in The Star for some of the background information).
I purchased the book and let the boys choose the recipes they would like to make, way back in February.
Then, I fell ill and the last part of Term 2 was a write off. We managed the cooking portion of the unit and finished all the work but never got to the bake sale. Then, of course, just before the boys were going on March Break, the earthquake struck Japan and fundraising in Term 3 has definitely focussed on the relief efforts there. I felt awkward suggesting a bake sale for Haiti, even though, as we all know, the earthquake may be long over but the funds to rebuild and recover will be needed for years to come. When the letters arrived in May, I decided we write a class, as opposed to individual, response to them (since time is running out this term!) and we would, indeed, hold the bake sale, on a very small scale (just one class contributing, just cupcakes, and whatever we raised would be appreciated), and send off the cheque to St Vincent’s with the letter.
So last week I copied the recipes out for the boys and sent them home. The boys were So excited!
Friday morning dawned bright and sunny but not too hot – the perfect day for a bake sale. I ventured into the Grade 6 classroom to check out the cupcakes. And I was speechless. So overwhelmed with what the boys had brought in. So impressed and so proud! Apart from the “Dufflet’s Devil’s Espresso Cupcakes” pictured at the top of the post (the boy’s mum asked him why he picked that recipe and he said “Who doesn’t like espresso?”), we had quite the selection…
And a box of store-bought because sometimes, despite best laid plans, you just can’t do everything (also unpictured). But that’s ok, the sentiment was definitely there.
And the result?
Well it was madness. In the best possible way. I literally have ONE picture from before the sale itself because we were so busy! Sometimes, you just have to put the camera down and be in the moment.
Over $300, a superb effort from one class of boys. We also had no Senior School boys around that day (they are doing exams) and the Grade 8s away in Québec City so considering we were something like 300 less students than would normally be available to
pester sell to, I think we did pretty well. Of course this meant that there were a whole lotta sugared up little guys that day. But it’s ok. It was Friday. It’s June!
It’s always rewarding as a teacher to see your classes come together and work towards a common goal. But so much more rewarding in June when we’re all a little bit “done” – sometimes as teachers, we’re too wrapped up in report cards and grading to see beyond the end of year craziness and remember the big picture. Watching these boys so proud of their creations and working so hard to sell them made me step back and realise how far they have come in the four years I have been teaching many of them. Sometimes, the most important learning doesn’t take place in the classroom.