TROY — More than 100 third graders, 25 parent volunteers, and various staff members at Concord Elementary came together on Tuesday to get into the Christmas spirit with an annual school tradition — gingerbread house construction.
The tradition was started 34 years ago at Concord under the leadership of former Miami County resident Cheryl Cotner, who served as Executive Director for the Future Begins Today from 1993 to 2015.
“Cheryl came in and started it when her boys were in the third grade here,” said third grade teacher Nancy Doucette. “The school continued doing it every year after that. Three years ago, Cheryl moved to South Carolina to be close to her grandchildren, but she passed the hat to us and we’re carrying on the tradition.”
“We use the original recipe,” said third grade teacher Brooke Seger. “The icing that we use, and the process to make the icing and build the houses are all the same.”
Each third grader was allotted a tray with an empty milk carton, which served as a base and support for their gingerbread house. Houses were constructed with graham crackers, icing, and various decorative elements, such as chocolate, candies, cookies, cereals, and more.
Supplies for the event were provided this year by Kroger and Meijer.
“There’s a lot of creativity that goes on, as well as listening skills and teamwork,” Seger said. “They have fun looking at each other’s and encourage each other on different ideas. Overall, though, it just a way to get into the Christmas spirit doing something fun and creative.”
Doucette and Seger both indicated that even though other holiday events are held at the school each year, the gingerbread project is a special one, due to its deeply-rooted tradition within Concord’s walls.
“Our lunchlady has a child who is now 18, and they still pull their gingerbread house out every Christmas,” Seger said. “So while kids can take it home and eat it, many also choose to keep it.”
“I’d say it’s the highlight of our third grade year,” Doucette said. “We look forward to it and talk about it. The kids have to contribute, parents come out and help, and a lot of the teachers get involved. Volunteer parents come in and start making icing at eight in the morning. It’s something that brings everyone together.”