On any sweltering, summer afternoon at the Rosedale Achievement Center, you can find the girls in the Summer Intermediate Program (SIP) doing things like working on character projects, going on exciting field trips, or—one of their favorites—competing in “Rosedale Chopped.”
Modeled after the famous cooking show, “Chopped,” the girls are divided up into three groups. Then they are given a cooking task along with a special, secret ingredient that they have to incorporate creatively into their dish. Each group’s dish is graded by the “judges” (aka the Program Director and teachers) on four categories: presentation, creativity, and taste. The final category, called “teamwork,” is the overall winning category. The winner in this category is the group that has outperformed the other teams in all three categories (even though every team wins one category), and it is also the team that worked the best together and displayed good character throughout the challenge.
In order to learn how to read instructions, gain confidence in the kitchen, as well as develop good teamwork and leadership skills, the girls work independently without the help of teachers. They always rise to the challenge. In fact, during my two years with SIP, they have prepared some of the best treats and meals I have ever tasted.
On one particular day this summer, the girls broke up into their three groups and baked cupcakes, a “Chopped Challenge” that simultaneously celebrated one girl’s birthday. One group had a red velvet cake mix and needed to creatively incorporate red velvet Oreos into their creation. The second group had a chocolate cake mix and Oreos, and the third group had a pink velvet cake mix and strawberries. The results were incredibly sweet and delicious.
But the best part wasn’t the super moist and light pink velvet cupcake that we declared as the winner. Rather, it was seeing the girls take control of the kitchen and confidently and intentionally create dishes they were proud of. I saw girls work together, help one another, and work together as a team in ways that much older people still struggle to do. In the end, I saw the center filled with empowerment, community, independence, and some delicious cupcakes, making it just another Tuesday early afternoon at Rosedale.
July 29, 2016
By Madelyn Murphy, Rosedale tutor 2013-2015, SIP verbal teacher Summer 2015, Rosedale Intern 2015-2016, SIP program Director Summer 2016