Reminder Assistant Editor
LONGMEADOW Cara Taylor, an art teacher at Longmeadow High School, will not be using the LEEF grant she received at the beginning of the school year for only the benefit of her students. The funding her project received will be used to create something that will in turn provide funding for another important cause.
The Longmeadow Educational Excellence Foundation (LEEF) awarded $94,635 in grants to 22 different educational projects in October 2007. The grants are annually awarded to teachers for creative and innovative projects within the Longmeadow school system.
Taylor's grant proposal asked for monies to support the Empty Bowls Project in the high school. Started in 1990 by a high school art teacher in Michigan, the project helps students raise funds to support food drives, according to the project's Web site, www.emptybowls.net. When the bowls are finished, they are used to serve guests soup and bread as a fundraising meal. The guests are invited to keep the bowl as a reminder of hunger in the world.
"This is an 18-year-old project," Taylor stated. "It's now happening nationally with support from the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts."
The LEEF grant Taylor was awarded totaled $2,930, which covered the cost of clay, glazing materials, plastic molds and a slab roller to create the bowls for the project. She said she has a goal of creating 80 to 100 bowls for the Empty Bowl meal, taking place April 3 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the high school's cafeteria.
"[In my classes] everybody works on the bowls," Taylor explained. "Half will work on the pottery wheel while the other half work by hand." She has approximately 80 students each working on one bowl while the teacher has dedicated herself to making 20.
Taylor added that she's hoping to earn a $10 donation for each bowl at the dinner. All the monies raised will be donated to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.
The bowls do more than help raise funds, serve food and create gifts for those who donate, however. They serve as a way for students to express their artistic abilities.
Anna Woodward, a junior, decided to add some decorative swirls to her bowl to make it different. Senior Ben Weiner, who eventually wants to go into the food industry, decorated his bowl by placing tiny clay meatballs and thin clay spaghetti on the outside. He said since food was going to be served in the bowl, it should have a food theme all around.
"Working on the project has been a lot of fun," freshman Hannah Jagodowski said, "and we're helping out people in need."
The students are making the bowls, but they're seeking the help of the community to help finish the project. Parent volunteers are needed to loan crock pots and ladles for the dinner the group is hosting for the Empty Bowls Project. Anyone interested in helping out can e-mail Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 565-4244 ext. 319.
"The soup will be simple and the bread will be too, but the experience will be tremendous and so will the impact on those who benefit from the donations," Taylor said.