Teachers at Santa Fe 5/6 Center are, for all intents and purposes, experimenting in the kitchen with the launch of the redesign this school year.

Quite literally, that's exactly what reading interventionists Cathy Woodward and Renee Wiens-Evangelista are doing with their interest-based cooking group — a part of this year's new look educational model. Students can select a number of groups to get involved in (based on their personal "interests") each quarter, which meet three times per week, while teachers were able to do the same.

"It's kind of a hobby of mine," Woodward admitted. "I like to cook; that's why I chose the cooking group."

Enrichment opportunities offered through the cooking group, titled "Cooking and Calculating," include learning new recipes (for smoothies, muffins, enchiladas and more), gaining an understanding of nutritional needs, etc. Beyond that, though, a third pillar revolves around part of the redesign's mission — to get involved in the community — with the cooking group recently acting on that by prepping, delivering and serving meals to the New Hope Shelter this week.

Personally, Woodward admitted she delivers meals (based on her culinary interests) frequently to a number of community organizations, which made it a pretty easy concept to adapt with her interest-based group. New Hope was just the right size for students to prepare meals for, Woodward said, and the group has helped serve the organizations once per quarter since the start of the school year.

"We're really trying to get them to think about others in the school as well as others in the community. That's a school-wide focus, trying to think of others," Woodward said. "It takes a village. We all work together."

For this quarter's meal, students prepared a spaghetti pizza casserole, fruit salad and pudding dessert for New Hope residents.

Serving of the meals is optional, but Woodward noted a handful of the students in the group usually show up on Santa Fe's given night.

Dylan Hedrick was one such student to show up for service this week. Hedrick said it was a good experience getting to serve others, though he admitted the meal prep was one of the best parts of the project.

"My favorite part of it was probably making the spaghetti pizza. It was fun," Hedrick said.

Hedrick also said that getting involved making a meal for New Hope is something that would spur him to serve his community further.

Like many students, Hedrick had his own reasons for joining the group (drawn in by some friends), but no matter what those reasons are Woodward hopes students leave having learned a similar lesson — about being independent and being able to take care of themselves, but also being able to take care of others.

Santa Fe's cooking group has received community support from Dillons, Wal-Mart, Back Alley Pizza, Crust and Crumb and other local businesses and the goal, Woodward said, is to try to pay that forward — an opportunity all the students so far have relished when it comes to serving at New Hope.

"They're excited about it. Some of them just can't because of their family schedules. I think if it was something during the day, they'd all be for it. They really enjoy it. It's fun to watch them because they're very anxious to serve," Woodward said. "Their excitement (is) in making a product for someone else and then seeing that group of people enjoy it and be blessed by receiving it."