Frosting and fiction: Thunder Mountain students show off their literary knowledge, with cake

Thunder Mountain High School student Abigail Sparks poses with the cake she made for her final project. The creation was part of the Great Literature Bake-Off in the TMHS library on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.
Thunder Mountain High School student Abigail Sparks poses with the cake she made for her final project. Her creation was part of the school’s Great Literature Bake-Off on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (Photo by Bridget Dowd/KTOO)

From cake-pop pig heads to edible dinosaur cakes, the Thunder Mountain High School library was sweeter than usual on Tuesday. AP Literature students were presenting their final projects in the Great Literature Bake-Off. 

Thunder Mountain teacher Corrine Marks asked her students to choose a novel they read in high school and to represent one of its scenes, themes or symbols — with cake.

“[The class is] all seniors, and it’s their last semester,” Marks said. “So you know, let’s have a little fun and celebrate with cake.”

One group of students used cake pops to represent pig heads on stakes from "Lord of the Flies."
One group of students used cake pops to represent pig heads on stakes from “Lord of the Flies.” (Photo by Bridget Dowd/KTOO)

Students made mock-up drawings of their cakes explaining their meaning. Then cakes were judged by district staff members.

“It’s been fun to watch their process and their ideas and some of the crazy creativity that’s come out,” Marks said.

The pig head group chose “Lord of the Flies.” Another group used maple syrup to imitate the poison from “Romeo and Juliet.”

There were four prizes: Student Choice, Best Use of Materials, Best in Show and Best Representation of Literature. Winning students received gift cards from local businesses.

Abigail Sparks won the student choice category. She created a T-Rex out of cake and added something a little extra, too.

“I’ve always been obsessed with Jurassic Park, both the movies and the books and the overall science behind it,” Sparks said. “I ended up making a peach mango Jell-O bowl thing with a mosquito in it to represent the amber, which is where all the stuff in Jurassic Park comes from.” 

For her final project, Thunder Mountain High School student Abigail Sparks made a T-Rex out of cake to represent Jurassic Park.
For her final project, Thunder Mountain High School student Abigail Sparks made a T-Rex out of cake to represent Jurassic Park. (Photo by Bridget Dowd/KTOO)

In the story, scientists mine for amber to find blood-sucking insects trapped inside, then clone dinosaurs from blood preserved in the mosquitoes.

Sparks said she wouldn’t call herself a baker, but she does love watching the Great British Bake Off. 

“It’s all like pre-made boxed cake mix and pre-made frosting,” she said. “I did make the modeling chocolate from scratch, which was difficult, but the fondant and the frosting and stuff was just me mixing dyes together and calling it a day.” 

It took her about 10 hours over several days to complete the project. 

After judging was complete, the class ate their projects.

Sparks will attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks in the fall to study geology and paleontology. She hopes to eventually work with fossils at a museum or do field research.

For Sparks and the other students in her class, more than half of their high school career has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s been an odd experience,” she said. “I guess I expected more from my high school career. It’s nice to have like a semi-normal senior year, to be able to just put everything to a close and move on to the next chapter.”

Graduation for Thunder Mountain students will be on Sunday, May 29, 2022 at 7 p.m. The Juneau Douglas High School Yadaa.at Kalé commencement ceremony will be on the same day at 4 p.m.

Bridget Dowd

Local News Reporter

I keep tabs on what’s happening in Juneau’s classrooms for the families they serve and the people who work in them. My goal is to shine a light on both stories of success and the cracks that need to be filled, because I believe a good education is the basis of a strong community.

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