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Students ‘Rise Up’ in Pastry-Baking Co-Curricular

Students ‘Rise Up’ in Pastry-Baking Co-Curricular

Co-curriculars are a vital part of the Stuart Hall experience. All students in grades 8-12 participate in these after-school opportunities to explore passions and find new interests. One offering that sees waitlists each trimester is Rise Up!, a French pastry class.

Rise Up! partners with Staunton's Reunion Bakery, whose owner, Paul Fairbanks (a Stuart Hall parent), judges each student's output based on presentation and taste. The top bakers from each trimester participate in a bake-off to determine the school year's overall winner. (With so many cream puffs to go around, you could say everyone is a winner.)

"You name it, we've probably made it — except croissants," says Amy Hyde, a science and math teacher who leads Rise Up! "We do not have eight hours to put the time in to make them."

Students do their folding and kneading and shaping in the state-of-the-art teaching kitchen in Stuart Hall's Eastham Center.

Mrs. Hyde brings the same sense of experimentation to her teaching as she does to her pastry duties. During the day, one of the first things you notice in her classroom is the telescope, peering at the heavens through the rear window. A laboratory sporting a long countertop encompasses one-half of the room; three-desk clusters fill the rest.

But it took some trial and error for her to come up with her "rule of three" — and to arrange her students' desks in tight triangles of learning.

"Partnering allows one person to hide and the other to do all the work," Hyde said. "So I started experimenting. Do we add one more? Do we add two more? I found that three is the magic number. No one can hide. They have to collaborate. When they're discussing things, someone's going to disagree, and that takes the conversation further."

Midway through her teaching career, Hyde took a break to raise two children. Now her son Bankston, a fifth grader, is applying to Stuart Hall to join his sister, Julia, already a seventh grader, at the school. In fact, Hyde said, it was the "happenstance" of her Stuart Hall tour with Julia that led her to join the faculty after a career in public schools.

"This has been such a breath of fresh air," Hyde said. "I have never worked in a school where you're allowed to do deep dives with the kids because you have the time—and where the kids want to do the work."

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