Soup bowls highlight hunger awareness

Giving back to the community is an art form for students in Scarborough High School’s alternative education class.

Since the beginning of September, Lisa Ruhman, the high school’s ceramics teacher, has been working with the students to create bowls and mugs to highlight hunger awareness. In total, between 80 and 100 bowls will be made. The bowls differ in size and design, and on Dec. 19 will be sold to members of the public as part of the class’s biennial Empty Bowl luncheon.

The bowls will be sold with homemade soup at the luncheon, which is scheduled to take place at the high school at 11 a.m. after the holiday chorus concert. The money from the luncheon will be donated to the Preble Street Resource Center. The group hopes to raise $1,000. Ruhman said in 2012 – the last time the event was held – it took only 20 minutes to sell out. Slightly more than $650 was raised.

The alternative education class is a dropout prevention effort focusing on participation-based grading, team-building, service learning and individualization.

"With alternative education, we offer more oneon one attention, more individualized attention. The curriculum is at their pace and interest level," said Sarah Kappelman, who teaches alternative education social studies and English. "We really build a relationship with the kids and they build relationships with each other, so it becomes a safe environment for them."

Ruhman said Scarborough High School is only one of the schools across the country participating in the event held across the United States to raise awareness about hunger.

"This happens all across the country. The thought is, when your bowl is empty, you think about those people who have empty bowls because they don’t have enough food," Ruhman said.

The project gives students a real foundation in ceramics, Ruhman said. Each student follows the process from fashioning the bowl out of clay, firing it in the kiln and, finally, painting and decorating it.

"Since we stay with the project the entire semester, they have gotten better and better as the year has gone on," Ruhman said.

Kappelman said the project serves as much more than a way for students to fine-tune their ceramics skills.

"It gives them a great opportunity to give back to the community. We went to Preble Street and served lunch. It’s a really eye-opening experience for them. It gives them a hands-on opportunity to see where the proceeds from the project are going," Kappelman said.

Sophomore Toria Daniels said the visit to Preble Street was a memorable one.

"It was touching to see how many people need that help and support," Daniels said.

So far, Daniels has made eight bowls, as well as several mugs, each a different size and style.

"I really love it, because you are helping people with it," Daniels said of creating the one-of-a-kind art pieces for the luncheon. "I really like making the bowls. It’s fun."

"I am happy my class gets to do this and that all the money goes to Preble Street," she added.

This is the second time senior Jacob Young has participated in the charity event.

"I love helping people out who are in need of the help. At first people don’t understand the need but when they go there and see it, they have a change of heart," said Young, who is creating nine bowls for the event.

Giving back to the community isn’t Young’s only passion.

"Art is my favorite thing to do. After high school, I am going to go to MECA (Maine College of Art) to study art," said Young, who is in the midst of submitting his art portfolio to the Portland school.