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Martinsburg pie school

October 16, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Maybe the best way to capture the atmosphere inside the kitchen classroom at Martinsburg High School Friday morning, as a group of students made apple pies, is to relate just a few of the comments overheard in a half-hour period.

The students peeled and cored apples. They measured and mixed the ingredients needed to make crusts. They debated how many and which variety of apples should be used.

And they talked.

"It's all about the technique," one girl said.

"Somebody stole my pie crust yesterday," another said.

"We're going to have some black pies up in here!" a girl said after the class' teacher, Georgia Ann Vogan, opened a particular oven. A plume of black smoke emitted from the oven, caused by a pie that leaked and burned the day before.

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"Too bad we can't go to the mall," a would-be shopper remarked.

"I think I messed up because my stuff keeps on sticking," a girl said of her pie crust dough.

"I don't like getting my hands dirty. I hate it," another said.

After a student asked how the consistency should appear during a certain stage of making the crust, Vogan said it should resemble peas.

"Like the letter P?" the student asked in response.

When she was not being summoned to one side of the classroom or another to help with a student's problem or query, Vogan paused to answer a visitor's questions and make observations.

By mid-morning, 15 pies were to be taken from the ovens at the high school, Vogan said.

Students at Musselman, Hedgesville and Jefferson high schools also baked pies as part of an annual tradition of the Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival.

Pies from the junior division are judged separately from those baked by adults, but all entries compete for the grand champion ribbon.

All of the pies will be auctioned today at the Berkeley County Youth Fairgrounds, off Golf Course Road. The auction begins at 11 a.m.

Aside from pies made Thursday as practice, most of the student bakers have had little to no experience in a kitchen, Vogan said.

"All of them are practically novice bakers," she said. "We're kind of a little anxious this week."

Volunteer students judged the practice pies at 6:45 a.m. Friday. A few of the students in the classroom implored Vogan to let them taste the pies they had made a day earlier.

Ikea Haskins, 16, said she was baking her first apple pie.

"It's fun. You should try it," she said.

Jayleen Rayburn was playing the role of a multipurpose assistant.

"I'm helping people and trying to get other people on the right track," she said.

Ben Wilson, 16, did not plan to enroll in the food and nutrition class, but it's where he ended up after his first plan fell through. He seemed affable about the situation.

"It's pretty cool," he said.

He said his mother and grandmother "are practically chefs. I watch them (bake) all the time."

While other students still were mixing the ingredients for their crusts or peeling or slicing apples, Melissa Creamer was alone in a corner. Her apples had been peeled and sliced. Her dough was rolled and she was placing the final crust on top.

Once again, a maternal influence helped.

"I just watch my mom do it a lot," she said.

Vogan said the class represented the most pie bakers she has had. During the first semester, the class focuses primarily on nutrition, especially since so many adults and teenagers are obese in the country and in West Virginia, Vogan said.

A teacher at Martinsburg High School since 1989, Vogan said the joy she gains from the pie baking contest is simple: "My kids get a chance to bake. That's it."

Because most of the students in Vogan's class are not athletes or members of the school's acclaimed show choir, the apple pie baking contest represents a unique experience.

"There's really no other way to get them this opportunity," Vogan said.

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