Fort Mill Middle rakes in dough thanks to student’s healthy pizza recipe

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comJanuary 31, 2013 

— A great pizza recipe just turned into some serious dough for Autumn Mitchell and Fort Mill Middle School.

Representatives from the Carolina Panthers, Domino’s Pizza and the Southeast Dairy Association presented the school with a check for $4,000 at a Jan. 29 pep rally held for Mitchell, winner of this year’s Sir Purr-fect Pizza Challenge recipe contest. The eighth-grader, who didn’t know she’d won until the end of the program, beat out more than 300 other entries from the greater Charlotte area.

Her Panther Player Pride Pizza recipe stood out for promoting a healthy and active lifestyle. The contest was part of the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, which encourages an hour of exercise a day for youth. Mitchell’s pizza used a whole wheat crust, mushrooms, spinach and barbecue chicken, among other ingredients. She hadn’t particularly thought about trying to make healthy pizzas prior to the contest.

“I guess it’s kind of new,” she said.

Strat Lake teaches family and consumer sciences at the school. Her eighth grade class spent days designing, making, tasting and modifying recipes before all 32 students entered one. Including a trip to the cafeteria for ovens large enough to take on the task.

“We spent two class periods making them,” Lake said.

The district paid for the ingredients, which helped. Students also submitted 100-word essays on their recipes, which is where Mitchell’s stood out. Not that the taste was bad, either.

“Hers was delicious,” Lake said.

Perhaps the most physical activity at Tuesday’s pep rally came from principal Greg Norton, who answered a chanting student section wanting to see the 20 push-ups he said he could do. Norton did 30, then narrowly lost out to a fellow faculty member in a speed dressing competition where both men ended up donning Panther player attire.

Norton said the first destination for part of the $4,000 would be the classroom that earned it.

“She’s in need of some new equipment,” he said of Lake’s program. “They did all the heavy lifting.”

Leftover cash will help “beef up” technology at the school, with eyes set to increased online testing next year.

“That’ll probably eat it all up right there,” Norton said.

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