PURCHASE LINE — A well-known tradition that has been happening for almost 30 years at Purchase Line High School continued on Dec. 13 — the doughnut auction.
The doughnut auction first began in the ’80s whenever former school nurse Jean Hulling and former science teacher Ed Scott brought in a dozen doughnuts and former music teacher William Pearce auctioned them off to students after the band concert to benefit Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh.
[PHOTO: Purchase Line High School juniors, from left, Skyla Toth, Austin Patterson and Aubrey Mills displayed their finished doughnut inspired by the Disney Pixar movie “Up.” (Submitted photos/Purchase Line High School)]
The auction has now turned into trays upon trays of designed cakes that are auctioned off to the student body.
This year’s auction featured 14 student-created doughnuts, which raised $2,772 to be donated to local food banks.
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Each December, hundreds of students and staff at Purchase Line gather in the high school auditorium to bid on up to 14 doughnuts for charity — designed by students from all grades in cooking elective courses.
School nurse Sharon Huffman, who organizes the charity campaign each year, always asks for “a baker’s dozen,” which is 13.
Last year, the total of all December fundraising events, including the doughnut auction, was just shy of reaching $7,500. The money is given to a different charity organization each year.
Last year, Purchase Line competed against Northern Cambria to see who could “Stuff the Bus” to send donated items to the areas ravaged by superstorm Sandy. This year, Huffman said, “We’re donating cans and nonperishable food items to local food banks in our area. I like that we’re keeping charity in our own district this year because there is a lot of need in our own community.”
The collection of items began Dec. 3 and continued until Wednesday.
Any student who has family and consumer sciences teacher Jessica Subich for a cooking-based class in the fall semester has the opportunity to use their imagination and turn a doughnut (cake) into nearly anything they can imagine.
Many students, however, don’t see all of the work “behind the scenes” of the auction. Many students, staff and teachers put much of their effort and energy into making sure the auction pulls together just right. Teachers and staff are seen toting in baked cakes of all shapes and sizes before the doughnuts are made.
Subich said, “Teachers have always searched their cupboards and all different stores looking for materials that students request for their designs. I couldn’t do the doughnut auction without the donations from faculty and staff.”
The auction has expanded since the original sale of a dozen doughnuts, and Subich’s classes make 13 doughnuts each year. Normally, 12 doughnuts are designed by Subich and students for the auction.
Subich said, “My students and I design 12 in the planning process, but usually someone has a good idea that I can’t pass up during the process of making the doughnuts, and the teachers and staff are always so generous with their donations of supplies that we end up making the extra cake, equaling 13.”
This year that “extra doughnut” depicts teddy bears tucked into bed on Christmas Eve, a design found by senior Megan Hudson.
Hudson took charge of coming up with an extra design because her class wanted a doughnut that was their own. Under pressure, Hudson was relieved to find a “cute teddy bear design online.” Hudson really likes teddy bears, and the theme fits into the Christmas holiday.
Hudson said, “I’m really excited (with) how it ... turn(ed) out.”
Junior Skyla Toth, as well as many other students, spent many hours working on the “Up” doughnut.
When asked about her design, Toth said, “We decided to do the movie ‘Up.’ We layered the cake and put a house on it with heart balloons coming out of the chimney.”
In order to get as much money from the auction as possible, students have to come up with the most unique designs and use their creativity to create a large cake that will strike a reaction from the audience. The effort that students put in truly shows when the time for the auction comes.
For her specific design, Toth said, “I loved making the cake and being able to do my own design. We learned how to work with fondant, which was the biggest and best skill I learned. I liked coloring and shaping the homemade fondant.”
Every year, there are a few groups who struggle with choosing the design for their doughnut.
Toth has a different story, though. She submitted her idea to Subich in early October.
“There was a cake design online with heart balloons,” said Toth.
“Instead of doing that design (exactly), we chose ‘Up’ because it would be more popular,” said Toth.
Senior Dylan Tyger was in on the “Up” doughnut, too, and he said, “I like doing the different designs and shaping the fondant.”
“It’s a cute little kid movie with a house floating through the sky, and there’s crazy dogs,” said junior Aubrey Mills of “Up.” She worked with Toth and junior Austin Patterson to create the heart design as well as the house for the doughnut.
Mills found a design online that led to an unprecedented 14th donut made by the students in the cooking elective courses. With the entire class participating, the Magic Kingdom doughnut was assembled quickly in honor of the marching band’s acceptance to the Disney Parade in Florida.
Making the doughnuts is an excellent class project, according to Subich. The students practice a variety of skills learned in the class, and they are participating in a service learning project since the auction benefits a charity each year.
Students also practice problem solving throughout the process of making the doughnuts. “I don’t have the answers. … Each design, each doughnut presents new, unique circumstances. My students are challenged to find their own answers and to be creative to do so.”
“I’m so excited the charity this year includes local food banks. While the other charities through the years have been worthy causes, I believe it’s important to support our local families. I hope students, faculty, and staff will be generous in their donations not only in (the doughnut) auction, but also in the food drive,” Subich added.
Crafts students are learning to tie-dye various patterns. I, myself (Monique), am one of these students.
Art teacher Steve Woodrow, the teacher for this class, told students to bring in a 100 percent white cotton T-shirt for this project so that the color would hold better.
The process goes a little something like this:
• Soak the T-shirt in soda ash for a total of 24 hours.
• Once that procedure is done, pick a design.
• Designs include the bull’s-eye, the spiral, the stripe and the crumple. There are plenty more designs available as well.
• Apply rubber bands to section off the shirt. The minimum amount of rubber bands used is eight.
• Apply the dye to the shirt.
• The dyes had already been made for class. (However, if tie-dying is done at home, there are kits with instructions that can be followed to make dyes.)
• The primary colors (blue, red, and yellow) were the chosen dyes.
• Other colors can be made by following the color wheel to create them. Examples would be purple, green, or orange.
• After the dying part is complete, place the shirt into a bag between 12 to 24 hours.
• Once that is complete, take the bag to the sink to rinse the excess dyes away. Remove the rubber bands before rinsing. Rinsing it out is complete once the water runs clear.
• Throw it into a new bag to take home, and when it’s time for laundry, wash it with the darks.
• Gloves for this whole process are optional, but they are highly recommended it due to the fact that the dye will not come off without bleach.
A few students shared their perspective on the skills needed to do this and what they learned from it. Jackie Patton, a senior, said that she learned about different patterns and the fact that gloves are a necessity. She also said that the only skill needed is creativity.
Crystal Shaw, a senior, said that she learned that patterns or the order the colors are put on affects the colors that mix together to create others. Shaw added that the skill of quilting is needed and when asked why, she explained that the shirt has to be organized into different, but equal sections.
Woodrow chose this project because, he said, “it is part of the crafts curriculum, (and) it is the beginning activity that leads us into the fiber arts, creating art using yarns and fabrics.”
[PHOTO: Displaying the “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” doughnut, from left, are seniors Nicole Phillips, Megan Hudson, Ashley Karlinsey and Kirsten Chverchko. The doughnut was based on a design Hudson found. (Submitted photos/Purchase Line High School)]