Thunder Bay

A recipe for success: Thunder Bay elementary school launches virtual Cake Boss Challenge

Take some enthusiastic teachers. Add a heaping helping of some very creative students and families. Stir in sugar and flour, and that's the recipe for the Cake Boss Challenge at Kingsway Park Public School in Thunder Bay, Ont.

'These could potentially be some of our biggest designs and coolest designs ever,' says principal

This cake by Declan, decorated to look like Chewbacca from Star Wars, won first prize in the Kingsway Park Public School Cake Boss Challenge. (Lakehead Public Schools)

Take some enthusiastic teachers. Add a heaping helping of some very creative students and families. Stir in sugar and flour, and that's the recipe for the Cake Boss Challenge at Kingsway Park Public School in Thunder Bay, Ont.

The annual event, organized by Grade 8 teacher Ryan Roy, is one of the highlights for students in the Fine Arts Academy program. For awhile however, it looked like the coronavirus, baking and online learning just weren't going to mix, said Darren Lentz, the principal of the junior kindergarten to grade 8 elementary school

This 'Cheese cake' by Dayla took second prize in the Cake Boss Challenge at Kingsway Park Public School in Thunder Bay. (Lakehead Public Schools)

But staff decided "we have to go for it, and the engagement by students was absolutely phenomenal."

Teachers shared recipes and helped students find online baking and decorating tutorials, or spoke with pupils one-on-one through video links.

Lentz also delivered cake tins, sugar, flour and other baking supplies to some homes because "we wanted to make sure every student had the opportunity who wanted the opportunity."

This 'Tiki' cake, created by Matthew D. for the Cake Boss Challenge at Kingsway Park Public School in Thunder Bay, tied for third place. (Lakehead Public Schools)

Parents pitched in as well, said Lentz, with many sharing their expertise while working with their children in their kitchens at home.

Students participating in the open competition had to plan, design, bake and decorate their own cake, which was judged on overall design, quality of structure, creativity with decorating and "Wow! factor."

Reid Daniele and his cake dog 'Baxter' which he made for the Cake Boss Challenge at Kingsway Park Public School in Thunder Bay. His creation tied for third place. (Supplied by Lakehead Public Schools)

The contest encouraged planning, following directions and creative thinking, while reinforcing many academic subjects such as English through reading the recipes, the chemistry involved in making a cake light and fluffy and mathematics through measuring all the ingredients.

Some of the students even created their own fondant for decorating "which is not an easy task" said Lentz.

"You can buy fondant but you can also create it through the use of marshmallows and stuff that I didn't know about, which is a skill I can say many adults don't even know and some of these kids mastered it and used it to perfection in their cake design."

Preston made 'Fisherman's Dream' for the Kingsway Park Public School Cake Boss Challenge and tied for fourth place. (Lakehead Public Schools)

Innovations such as homemade fondant particularly impressed Lentz.

"The students, they just knock my socks off every year with their unique designs and just love of learning something new and experiencing something new."

'Just chillin'', a cake by Morrigan, tied for fourth place at the Kingsway Park elementary school Cake Boss Challenge. (Lakehead Public Schools)

He said all the challenges the students and teachers faced seems to have also encouraged people to think more creatively.

Both he and Roy felt "these could potentially be some of our biggest designs and coolest designs ever, so those challenges present opportunities for learning and I think if we look at it that way, and definitely the students are looking at it that way "

Kyra made Groot as her contribution for the Cake Boss Challenge at Kingsway Park Public School in Thunder Bay. She won fifth place. (Lakehead Public Schools)

"They stepped up and really demonstrated their true abilities, and that's what I'm proudest about."

The cakes were judged by Shane Warwick,who teaches food theory and baking in the Cook Apprenticeship and Culinary Management Programs at Confederation College in Thunder Bay, with prizes donated by Sweet North Bakery.

The winner was a cake decorated to look like Chewbacca from Star Wars.

Creativity, caring and baking came together in the virtual Cake Boss Challenge at Kingsway Park Public School in Thunder Bay. Principal Darren Lentz told the CBC's Cathy Alex how teacher, students and families came together to make sure the popular event could go ahead online, and in the kids' kitchens. 5:54

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