Cupcake Month relieves March’s tedium

March 18, 2011 — by Samika Kumar

After toiling away for three hours to create a culinary masterpiece of dark and milk chocolate cupcakes, junior Varsha Ramesh only hoped that her first period peers would approve of her cooking. The treats—coated with frosting and Thin Mints—were for Suzanne Herzman’s English 11H class as a way of acknowledging the tedium of March.

Herzman’s students have a tradition of bringing cupcakes to class in March, which has become Cupcake Month in Herzman’s books.

To make up for the stress that March evokes due to no vacations, students sign up to bring in treats for the class to enjoy, according to Herzman.

“March is long,” Herzman said, “and especially for juniors, it gets to be very stressful.”

But students are not limited to just bringing cupcakes.

“It’s really any baked good or delicious treat,” Ramesh said. “People bring cookies, brownies and everything else. It gives people more flexibility.”

Students enjoy treats on block days, when Herzman integrates eating the snacks into the lesson plan. Because students sign up in advance to bring treats, Herzman notes that “it’s a hard sell in some classes, but my honors juniors have really embraced it.”

Out of Herzman’s two years at Saratoga High and her six to seven years with Cupcake Month, a few students’ treats have left a lasting impression.

Last year, senior Rex Sakamoto raised the bar for Cupcake Month when he integrated his cupcakes into his “Great Gatsby” final project. Inspired by Gatsby’s parties in the novel and a cupcake book that his friend had given him, Sakamoto spent a whopping 20 to 25 hours to create “turkeys, a lobster, a rose bouquet, chow mein, chrysanthemums, pool balls, sunflowers” and more from just candy, frosting and cupcakes. He used a variety of sources for ideas and help, including the Internet and his cupcake book.

“When I brought it into class, people seemed excited and incredulous [as to] whether or not everything was really made of cupcakes,” Sakamoto said. “I think they were most surprised when they took a bite to find how much frosting and candy each cupcake had.”

But fancy cupcakes do not make up the only great memories regarding Cupcake Month. Students learn more about each other through collaboration and bringing in different treats, Sakamoto said.
Sophomore Ramya Swami, who was in Herzman’s English class last year, found the cupcakes helpful toward class bonding.

“Cupcake Month got us all focused on doing our work properly so that we would be rewarded with cupcakes at the end,” Swami said. “It was something that I looked forward to.”

Herzman has so far found no disadvantages to holding Cupcake Month.

“Students understand there [are] a time and place for cupcakes and a time and place for learning. It’s not distracting,” Herzman said. “Health-wise, it doesn’t have to be a high-fat, high calorie situation. It’s the students’ choice.”

Herzman emphasizes that the meaning of Cupcake Month adds to the excitement.

“Cupcake Month has the connotation of joyful [and] happy,” Herzman said. “It’s not like ‘wet dog month’; it’s just fun.”

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