Friday, April 18, 2014

Senior Board Madness

Senior Boards are that special day in every Thunderridge Senior's life that they have dreaded from the moment they walked through the doors as freshmen. 

Every other school in the district has abandoned this special form of torture except TR.

The "sell" is that it's good for them to be forced into selecting an interest they've never explored and then beat any goodwill and interest out of them in a massive, semester-long focus on it, with the threat that, if they don't pass it, they don't graduate.

These kids have been told this for four years. It's on par with being called before the McCarthy hearings. Or maybe the Spanish Inquisition, with slightly less bloodshed. But only slightly. 

They must, in their fall semester, select an area of study, write a letter of interest, a plan, find a mentor, and undertake to learn said skill/interest/etc under their mentor's tutlelage, documenting their work in a portfolio as well as producing an argumentative research paper related to the topic. They use most of their Senior English class time all year long to work on tasks. 

A few photos from her portfolio centered around making Bob's birthday cake: 

The required "product" she presented today was a three-tiered themed cake. This past week has been absolute hell thanks to that damn cake.

The cake itself isn't real. It's Styrofoam, which is the industry standard. Most everything you see in the display window is just the decorations. 

But, from this point forward, I will never, ever order a cake covered in fondant again. 

Putting anyone through that torture is just evil. 

Fondant comes in a large package, a ball of which you pull off and roll out into a thin, but not too thin, layer to "float" over the cake, after which, if you've ever watched Cake Boss, you simply float and press and voila! Beautiful icing. 

Uh, no. 

We watched tutorials again and again. She rolled and rolled, floated, pressed, and had to start again. Roll too thickly and it doesn't float or cover completely. Roll too thinly, and it breaks. Once it breaks, you pull it off, ball it up, and start all over again. But you can only start over again so many times before it starts to lose its texture and dry and flake. 

And you are doing for this for three tiers. 

She started with square Styrofoam dummies, but gave that up. The corners were a nightmare. 

The rounds weren't much better. 

But, finally, after hours and night of wailing and gnashing of teeth, and pulled muscles, and numb hands, or a sore back, she brought it together. She hand=drew and cut the Art Deco patterns from black fondant to press on. She piped buttercream in florets. 

She got her chef's jacket with the name of her baking business "Short Cakes". 

She whipped up another batch of amazing Devil's Food cake for cupcakes and iced those with fresh vanilla flavored buttercream to take to the judges. 

And she practiced her speech, again and again, with and without notes, pacing, working on eye contact, getting the timing just right so she would definitely fall between teh 6 and 10 minute pass/fail frame.

It was exhausting just to watch. 

And when it was all over and all there was to do was wait for the email saying she passed or the dreaded phone call telling her she failed and would have to try again, this is what she thought of the idea of ever becoming a baker and cake decorator. 

All that's left now, as she's headed out to be with her friends, all of whom shared in the same torture today and the inevitable relief of having survived, are two lone cupcakes. She took the rest and the whole batch of buttercream to the party. 

She had just left and was filling up the car when she texted me the email in her inbox. My reply actually moves, since we tend to communicate in gifs via text. But you get the idea.


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