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West York partners with doughnut business to sell second graders' creations

A West York Area teacher found a fresh way to keep students engaged when in-person instruction wasn't an option: Have them compete to create new doughnut flavors.

Christine McKee challenged her second-grade writing class at Lincolnway Elementary to pitch their ideas to Emingee's Fastnachts and Coffee at  Morningstar Market in Jackson Township.

The students were tasked with describing their ideal flavors in writing — what they would look and taste like — and persuading the bakery owners to make and sell them.

Two doughnut flavors — Holy Sweet Cannoli and The Minty — were chosen and sold May 30-31 at the market, with special recognition to students.

"Obviously being off with the whole coronavirus has really changed how we teach," McKee said. "It’s been a struggle with teaching our kids and getting them excited about things we do in the classrooms."

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Persuasive writing is part of the curriculum, but it's a tough topic to teach remotely, she said, so she wanted to do something to keep students engaged.

McKee and her family had just gone to Morningstar Market a couple of weeks before she got the idea to reach out to longtime friend Melanie Cornman, who owns Emingee's with  husband Greg.

Lincolnway Elementary cecond-grade student Jaydaci Phillips take the first bite of her donut creations "Holy Sweet Cannoli" at Emingee's Fastnachts and Coffee, Sunday, May 31, 2020.
John A. Pavoncello photo

"We’ve just known her forever," Cornman said of McKee, adding that McKee taught her children — now adults — when they were in pre-K and kindergarten.

The West York teacher has also been bringing her own children, ages 7 and 8, to Cornman's stand, and they love the doughnuts, Cornman said, so she loved the idea of bringing students in. 

McKee's contest was open to all nine of the district's second-grade classrooms — all housed in Lincolnway — totaling about 200 students. 

Each teacher chose three entries from their classrooms, and other teachers and administrators in the district helped narrow them down to three finalists to present to the bakery.

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The winners were Jaydaci Phillips, of Catherine Loughran's class, with the cannoli flavor, and Brianna Lindemuth, of Sandra Hallinger's class, with mint chocolate chip. 

Lincolnway Elementary second-grade student Brianna Lindenmuth gets to try her donut creation "The Minty" at Emingee's Fastnachts and Coffee, Sunday, May 31, 2020.
John A. Pavoncello photo

"We’re always looking for good doughnut ideas," Cornman said, adding that she was very impressed with the writing and would have chosen all three finalists if it weren't for some limitations in making the third entry, a gingerbread doughnut.

And more importantly, the contest was a huge hit with West York's second graders.

One parent said her daughter was so excited she couldn't sleep, "and that's what I want," McKee said. "I want kids to be excited about writing."

The two winning entries were very specific, detailed and included lots of examples of what made their flavors taste and look good, she said. 

"The caramel drizzle across the top, is in a zig-zag pattern. And the mini chocolate chips remind you of little mountain tops," Jaydaci wrote in her submission.

And both entries included a persuasive punch.

"Many people already like the flavor, it will leave your breath minty fresh and will be so eye-catching no one will want to pass it by," reads Brianna's entry. "I bet these donuts will fly off the shelves, so get them while they last!"

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The contest also had another benefit, as it was bound to draw in business for Emingee's.

With the COVID-19 lockdown, the bakery had only been seeing about a quarter of the business it does normally, Cornman said, but it's been steadily improving.

"With a small community like this, I’d be surprised if people don’t come to try them," she said last month.