Student-made bowls, volunteer-made soups get students a ticket to ride

  • Fireweed students have been busy making bowls to help raise funds for the charter school’s outings. -Photo provided
  • Fireweed Academy student Elias Allen shows off two of the student-made bowls for the school’s upcoming fundraiser. -Photo provided

Field trips are a fun way to take learning from the classroom and into the real world. Those opportunities don’t come cheap, however. The biggest cost: transportation.

At Fireweed Academy, students in grades two through six are raising funds to help pay their own way for those opportunities. On Jan. 17, they are offering student-made ceramic bowls for $5. For another $5 you can have the bowl filled with some volunteer-made soup. 

“They were inspired by Lynn Marie Naden,” said Fireweed teacher Stephanie Zuniga, referring to a 2013 “Artist in the Schools” program with the Homer artist.

During Naden’s residency, the youngsters worked with low-fire terra cotta and a pinch-pot technique to create beads, cups, bowls and spoons. 

“We decided this year to take what we learned and apply it to a fundraiser,” said Zuniga of using the learned techniques, making the bowls big enough to hold a helping of soup, and firing and glazing each bowl to be used as a vessel for food. “It’s for the student activity fund, to pay for buses to go on field trips.”

The students have been hard at work since November, some of them creating more than one bowl, some of them focusing their attention on one, with the total number completed about 50.

“Some kids did a second round of bowls, but I don’t think we’ll get them glazed and fired in time,” said Zuniga. “We might, though. There might be more than 50.” 

The trick, however, is that the students get first right of refusal on the bowls.

“Many of the students want their bowls, even though they donated the ones they made, so they have first right of refusal until Jan. 17,” said Zuniga. 

That doesn’t mean the students get their works of art free. They get first pick, but, like everyone else, have to pay $5 per bowl.

“We’ve already raised $150 and that’s just the bowls. That’s because the kids really loved their work and they want to claim their bowls,” said Zuniga.

Whatever bowls aren’t claimed on Jan. 17 are available for purchase by family, friends and the public. Once the bowls run out, there will be free paper bowls for the $5-per-serving soup. 

Putting some dollar figures to transportation costs, Janet Bowen, Fireweed’s administrative assistant, said it costs approximately $45 for an hour of bus time.

“It’s always a one-hour callout, so even if we’re picked up here and taken to Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center, a 20-minute trip, that’s an hour,” said Bowen. Add a return trip to Fireweed Academy, located in the West Homer Elementary School building, and the cost is a total $90. 

A trip to the Cooper Landing area during the 2012-2013 school year “was expensive,” said Bowen.

“You pay for the bus to take you up there, then a couple of days later it comes back to get you. Usually the most expensive part of any trip is the travel portion.”

Volunteers are signing up to make soup for the Jan. 17 soup-and-bowl fundraiser. There will be Brazilian black bean soup, chowders and other bowl-filling selections.

“Nobody will be denied soup with or without a donation,” said Zuniga. “As long as there’s soup, you’ll be fed."

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at


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