Glenwood Springs students pull off their own holiday bazaar | PostIndependent.com

Glenwood Springs students pull off their own holiday bazaar

Kim Wille searches the large project room at Yampah Mountain High School Thursday for a bag of earrings that need the final packaging touches put on them. A lot of items need the finishing touches put on before Saturday's Taste of the Holidays and Gift Bazaar, and there are only a few days of classes left.

"I guess I left that whole box at home today," Wille, who teaches sustainable science at YMHS, said. The students begin trickling in from another class, but they were expected 10 minutes ago. There's still a lot to do to get everything ready for the bazaar, but Wille isn't worried.

About six girls huddle around the peppermint bark as one student begins cutting it to prepare for wrapping. Soon, they are all busy cutting ribbons to tie on bags of peanut brittle and packing coconut snowballs into jars.

Between Wille's classes and other sustainability pod classes this fall, around 80 students at YMHS have assisted in creating the food, jewelry and ornaments to be sold at the bazaar. The work started during the last trimester, with students canning jellies and jams, and really picked up in the past few weeks.

Under Wille's leadership, the students have created and packaged dozens of cookies and snacks, canned nine kinds of jelly, assembled different types of earrings, some with matching necklaces, and cooked three kinds of chili for the Saturday event.

The relaxed environment of the class may not seem conducive to efficient production, but as Wille explains what needs to be done the students jump into the tasks. It's about getting students interested and excited to work on something, Wille said. The students find out they can do something, which inspires them to take ownership of the project.

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"These kids get great confidence doing this," Wille said.

From caramel popcorn, butter mints and coconut snowball cookies to jams and chili, the students did the bulk of the cooking.

"I tried to pick recipes that weren't hard, but were unusual, only had a few ingredients and were easy, so students could take them home to make for their parents," Wille said.

Student Marisol Diaz said she enjoyed all the projects that involved food, even though she doesn't consider herself a good cook. "That's why I like cooking. They teach me," Diaz said.

Wille found the jewelry she supposedly was missing, and sets it on a table to the side. Senior Sarahi Delgado has spent a good amount of time in the class this trimester attaching small holiday-themed pendants onto earring hooks and packaging them for sale. At first she found the work tedious, but once she got into a rhythm it became easy, she said.

As the afternoon went on, more students drifted into the big room, coming from outside where they were testing a new kind of snowboard on the hillside. By the end of the period Thursday, all the peppermint bark had sampled out of existence, but Wille said there would be time Friday to make more. The students also had to decorate the tree, make the chili and organize the items for sale.

In addition to the lessons in gardening and cooking and basic life skills, the sustainable science program is also meant to teach entrepreneurial skills. Wille says the students participate in the bookkeeping and money side of the projects, as well.

Wille hopes to raise a few thousand dollars from the bazaar to support the stainability classes. The winter months are heavier on cooking, so some of the funds will likely go toward food for the class projects.

Some of the money will go to supplies for the gardening projects, like a second layer of plastic sheeting so the students can ad a pillow of air to better insulate the hoop house, and equipment to terrace the hillside to plant bushes in the spring.

This is the second year YMHS has hosted a bazaar, but they canceled it last year for a number of reasons. There were more students in the program and coordinating everything took time, plus Wille was suffering from a series of medical problems. The root cause was not diagnosed until July, right around the time of the Lake Christine fire started, threatening Wille's residence.

Now, the bazaar is back in force. The event, running from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, features pork chili verde, vegetarian chili, and Wille's own chili recipe. The students have also prepared a wishing tree with ideas for how people can donate directly to specific projects. The price of admission is $5.

tphippen@postindependent.com

if you go…

What: YMHS Taste of the Holidays and Gift Bazaar

When: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Saturday

Where: Yampah Mountain High School, 695 Red Mountain Road, Glenwood Springs

Cost: $5