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Springdale students fill need with empty bowls

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Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, 12:21 a.m.

“Change is the law of life, and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

This quote from President John F. Kennedy adorned the inside of a ceramic bowl Springdale High School senior Domenica McElroy crafted for an event to fight hunger.

While McElroy thought the first bowl she had ever made was “a little rough,” teacher Mary Esther Garland liked it enough to have it filled with broccoli cheese soup for lunch.

“It just seemed unique,” Garland said.

Garland and other teachers and staff at Springdale Junior-Senior High School took home the bowls they chose during the school's first Empty Bowls event on Wednesday.

Empty Bowls is an international effort to fight hunger. The premise is that potters and craftspeople, educators and others create handcrafted bowls. Guests are invited to a simple meal of soup and bread.

In exchange for a donation, guests keep their bowls as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world. The money raised is given to an organization working to end hunger.

Students in the Allegheny Valley high school's ceramics class created bowls of all shapes, sizes and colors, while culinary arts students prepared the broccoli cheese and beef barley soup to fill them, along with salad, homemade bread and pumpkin-raisin cookies.

For the first-time event, only teachers and staff took part, paying $5 each.

It was held on World Food Day, a global movement to end hunger. Proceeds, expected to be about $225, will go to the Lower Valley Community Food Bank, which serves Cheswick, Harmar, Indiana Township and Springdale.

“We wanted to do it and keep the money in the community,” said art teacher Chelsey Roselle, who coordinated the event with family and consumer science teacher Melissa Leger. Students had been working on bowls since the first day of school.

“I've seen it done in other parts of the city. I want to do more to bring the students out of the classroom,” she said.

Bowls ranged from simple to fancy, plain to decorated. Some were one color; others were many. There were round bowls, square bowls and oddly shaped bowls.

Students put their names on the bottoms of their creations.

“They're all unique in their own way. Everyone did a good job,” said senior Elizabeth Wallander, who made six bowls herself.

Students were proud of their work on the food, which earned high praise from patrons. Senior Sabrina Bruske helped make both soups and chopped salad ingredients on Wednesday morning.

“It's awesome, I'm telling you, especially that broccoli cheddar soup,” she said. “This was a really neat idea.”

Knowing teachers would be taking her bowls home brought Wallander mixed feelings.

“I like it. It breaks my heart at the same time. I spent so much time working on it,” she said.

Teacher Sue Mellon chose a yellow and orange bowl she described as “almost daisy-like” with a flower inside the bottom. She is sending it to her daughter, Kara Brehm, who is attending school in Denver.

“Orange is her favorite color,” she said.

Freshman Lauren Hails made a multi-colored bowl that has her own hands — which were traced and cast in ceramic — cradling the bowl as if she was holding it.

“It encompasses so much of the idea of what this event is about,” Roselle said.

Roselle said she hopes to continue and grow Empty Bowls into a community event.

“We're taking baby steps,” she said.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or



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