Schenectady kids know how to please a crowd. They offered everything from musical performances and visually appealing science experiments to fragrant food and dance routines at Saturday’s Celebration 2013 event, and parents and teachers ate it all up.
The event is in its second year, and serves as a district-wide “open house” for elementary, middle and high school students and parents. And then it goes a step further, bringing in community organizations and agencies like the Schenectady Fire Department, the Girl Scouts of Northeastern NY and even a dietician from ShopRite in Niskayuna.
Ashley Bubar, 16, was scooping up diced apples covered in brown sugar and cinnamon and butter into a won ton wrapper Saturday. Tevin Martinez, 15, folded the wrapper over once and then sealed the edges with a fork. Kaitlyn Charboneau, 18, dusted each with some powdered sugar and then put them in to bake.
“We’re making apple won tons right now, but we also have pumpkin and apple crisp for the crowd,” said Martinez.
The three participate in the Steinmetz Career and Leadership Academy, a program that trains students in potential career tracks that interest them. Each of them learned a love of cooking from their relatives, and said they enjoy exploring different kinds of cooking in the program.
Charboneau learned to cook from her mom and hopes to become a pastry chef. Bubar spent many holidays helping her mother and grandmother cook big family meals. Martinez was inspired by his mom’s ability to provide for a family, and now wants to do that for others through cooking.
“She is a single mom, so it inspired me to want to help others by cooking, if that makes sense,” he said. “I make food for the homeless in Albany each year and go around giving it to them.”
The goal of the “Celebration” event is to show off the diverse talents across the district and highlight the school programs that help nurture them, said event organizer and high school supervisor Teresa Brown.
“We have 10,000 kids in the district, so there’s a lot of great programs that go on that not everybody gets to see,” she said Saturday morning, as drummers broke out into a beat on the other side of the cafeteria. “It’s a way to show a little bit of what each of them do. It’s a fun day for the parents most of all, I think, and we’ve seen more interest this year than last.”
Hallways were lined with booths filled with literature and representatives from programs like the city’s Home Ownership Made Easy in Schenectady program, Army National Guard, Boys and Girls Club of Schenectady, Schenectady Greenmarket and more.
Farishta Hamdard’s booth caught a lot of attention Saturday and all she had to do was some simple science. She showed passersby that the combination of carbon dioxide, dry ice and soapy water can be pretty cool.
“What we’re doing is almost like how you fill up a balloon with air,” she said, using a tube to produce a soapy bubble. “We’re just using carbon dioxide.”
Hamdard popped the bubble, which contained 100 percent carbon dioxide, and it went up in foggy, dry ice smoke.
Her 10th-grade chemistry teacher, Agnes Phillips, said she sometimes shows her class the same experience, but with methane instead of carbon dioxide.
“We didn’t think fire bubbles would be safe for today,” she joked. “We tried to pick stuff that’s safe and popular and that kids can do in an uncontained environment.”