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The FCAT is done, bring on the buffet

After using their favorite family recipes to hone their FCAT writing skills, about 50 Central High School students gathered to eat the food when the test was done.

By JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK
Published March 31, 2004

BROOKSVILLE - The yellow cake with chocolate frosting was the first to go.

Doritos casserole wasn't far behind.

About 50 Central High School students feasted Tuesday on their favorite foods from home, to celebrate having survived the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. Their intensive reading classes, designed to help them pass the FCAT, pulled the recipes together as a project that emerged from a lesson on, of all things, note-taking.

As part of a Black History Month assignment in February, teacher Linda Sufficool asked the students to summarize short biographies on notable living African-Americans. The pieces included recipes that each subject deemed important to their lives.

"One of the girls in the class said, "My mother makes this very same strawberry cake."' Sufficool said. "She wrote about her mother. I loved that. So I said, "Let's write memories of food that we have in our families."'

Before long, the students had compiled a cookbook that included explanations of each recipe's personal meaning. The next obvious step, they decided, was to sample everything at a buffet lunch.

"You know teenagers and food," Sufficool said, as she watched the group laugh and eat. "Is that a winning combination, or what?"

Junior Nicole Woodworth, who brought her aunt's pasta salad, said the assignment, and the event, were better than ordinary schoolwork.

"It makes it a lot more interesting, because we're doing things that are related to our family instead of just reading out of books," she said.

Senior Renis Adkins made his grandmother's smothered - "I mean smothered, you hear what I'm saying?" - hen. He praised his teachers for putting together the cookbook and the lunch.

"I give them their props on this," Adkins said. "Most teachers would not do this. It's a great way to get the students to share."

The cafeteria conversation focused on food.

Junior Alex Sanchez bragged about his cheesy baked potato recipe, which he encouraged everyone to try.

"I invented this," he said. "My dad and I have always made it. It is different every time."

Sophomore Dionndra Mathis, meanwhile, won kudos for her ultra-popular Doritos casserole, a mix of nacho-flavored chips, chicken, Rotel tomatoes, cream of mushroom soup and other ingredients.

"It's something in my family that we all love to eat," she said. "When my mom cooks it, that's what everybody wants."

Not far from the surface, though, was the knowledge that FCAT results are about a month away.

Some, like senior Julieana Marrero, were nervous. Marrero just started using English regularly when she moved to Florida from Puerto Rico two years ago.

"The test was difficult," she said. "I have to pass it because I'm going to graduate this year."

Others had no concerns.

"I'm not worried about that," Adkins said. "I passed that. My faith is too high for that."

Either way, the students enjoyed Tuesday's respite from the full-court FCAT press that dominated so much of the past several months.

"This is a lot of fun," Sanchez said, as he checked out how much of his potato dish remained. (About a quarter.) "I'd like to do it again."

He did not need to clarify. He meant the lunch. Not the test.

- Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at 352 754-6115 or solochek@sptimes.com

[Last modified March 31, 2004, 01:35:39]


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