Leechburg Area students cook up creative displays at Eat Your Art Out competition

April 16, 2018

Crazy and eclectic food combinations were encouraged this weekend as about 30 Leechburg Area students made and served up edible sculptures for a cause.

In its 14th year, Eat Your Art Out raises funds for the high school art club.

The sculptures were judged in two categories, and two ways — judges’ choice and by the public, people’s choice.

This year’s competition raised about $1,600, an increase from last year, said art teacher and event creator Shayle Prorok. Proceeds finance the annual art club field trip.

The People’s Choice winner was “Hasta La Vista Babies,” a two-dimensional jelly bean and icing portrait of Arnold Schwarzenegger, complete with an LED light for an eye, from his film “The Terminator.”

Faculty judges awarded first place to “A Tale As Old As Time”; second place was a tie — “Martin Luther King Jr.” and “Meat Satan By Underground Rockers” — and third place went to “The Healthy Hatters.”

“I always look for that “wow” factor (when judging),” said elementary art teacher and returning judge Erin Hettrich. “Something I haven’t seen in years past.”

New to the competition this year were seventh-graders and teammates Abby Schrecengost, Hannah Pugh and Elizabeth McCloskey. They created “The Zookeepers,” featuring animals such as elephants and tigers made from doughnuts.

Their toughest challenge?

“The giraffe was a problem,” McCloskey said. “It looks like a bird.”

Art club students said they are hoping to road trip to Chicago or Philadelphia and Prorok noted an art based trip is “in the works.”

The goal is to create a 100 percent edible sculpture that will not fall apart.

“We had a smooth year this time,” Prorok said. “The kids really planned well.”

“I like cooking and I like art so mixing them together was really fun,” said sixth-grader Zaine Iusi.

Zaine’s team created an ocean inspired display that featured a watermelon shark, Rice Krispies beach/sand and blue water made from Jello.

“Our biggest challenge was making the umbrellas out of melted white chocolate and carving the watermelon,” said teammate Alyssa Foley.

After the winners were announced, the crowd dug into some of the creations.

Ninth-grader Arwen Rak tried unsuccessfully last year to create a Mad Hatter-themed design. Undeterred, she and her team succeeded this year with a veggie-filled portrait dubbed “The Healthy Hatters,” consisting of ranch dip, carrots, assorted veggies and Rice Krispies treats.

Prorok said the event wraps up with a tradition that her students anticipate. “I get whip cream pies thrown at me by the students — the winning teams,” she said.

Leechburg Area School District Superintendent Tiffany Nix supports the engaging nature of this unique fundraiser.

“Eat Your Art Out is a multidisciplinary activity that engages students regardless of their learning style or interest,” Nix said. “It is a great event to host for our communities that allows students to demonstrate their skills, creativity and collaborative efforts.”

Joyce Hanz is a freelance writer.