Students display gingerbread houses at Mount Vernon
December 1, 2011
There's a little bit of Fort Belvoir at Mount Vernon this holiday season.
Seven gingerbread houses designed, built and baked by fourth graders from Fort Belvoir Elementary School are now on display in the estate's museum lobby, where they will be seen by an estimated 50,000 people over the next few weeks.
"All of this (the baking and construction of the gingerbread houses) took place in one week," said FBES principal Jane Wilson. "We were just so pleased with what you were able to accomplish."
Approximately 200 students, their teachers and parent volunteers were on hand at George Washington's home Tuesday to present their creations to the historic estate. They were greeted by Lady Washington herself, who offered the youngsters some advice.
"Keep yourself always busy as a bee, cheerful as a cricket and steady as a clock," she said with a wide smile and twinkling eyes. She said she was proud to receive the gingerbread houses on behalf of Gen. Washington himself.
The gingerbread houses represent seven buildings that can be found on the estate -- including the grist mill, barn and the Washington's home itself. Former executive pastry chef for the White House Roland Mesnier lauded the stu-dents work and complimented their use of color and attention to detail.
"It gives you the feel of the time, back to George Washington," he said.
He also stressed to the youngsters that learning continues for a lifetime.
"You never stop learning," he told them. "Don't think I'm finished with school at this age and now I can play."
Nancy Rowland, grant coordinator for FBES' Operation Patriotic STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) initiative said Chef Kathleen Linton worked with each 4th grade class for a half hour every day over the course of five days to help the students prepare the gingerbread houses. Rowland said students used skills from every academic discipline to complete the project.
"It became a labor of love for many departments in our school," she said.
Parent volunteers helped out for about eight hours a day every day during each day of the project.
"My favorite thing was I got to build the equipment," said an enthusiastic student Jacob Perry.
"I got really inspired by it," added student Shane Finney.