Carlmont’s Baking club finds a silver lining in the ongoing pandemic

Jordan+Dooley+pours+brownie+batter+into+a+baking+tin

Beth Dooley

Jordan Dooley pours brownie batter into a baking tin

With the uncertainty that COVID-19 brings, clubs must adapt to a new virtual environment. But despite the challenges, junior Cooper Perez and senior Madeline Becker, the co-presidents of Carlmont Baking Club, have managed to adapt to running their club online. 

Addison Gaitan, an English teacher and Baking Club’s current advisor, praised the two presidents’ innovation and adaptability. 

“My initial inclination this year was to not serve as the club advisor because I’ve been feeling so overwhelmed by distance learning,” Gaitan said. “However, Maddy and Cooper have been so good at coming up with suggestions for what we bake that I rarely need to offer a suggestion.”

In previous years, Baking Club was a haven where students could socialize and have fun while expressing a shared love of baking. Much of its popularity stemmed from students who would join solely to feast on the many delicious dishes. Although there is a requirement to bake at least once every few months, it was apparent many didn’t.

The club originally hosted meetings every other Monday in Gaitan’s classroom during lunch. Students would come in with their pre-made baking treats and have a potluck style social gathering while watching the “Great British Baking Show.”

This year, however, the club’s schedule has been reduced to just the first Wednesday of every month. Instead of pre-made dishes, club members are given an ingredient list to prepare before club Zoom sessions. Members then bake the delicious treats together on Zoom. So far, the club has focused on cookies and muffins such as chocolate banana muffins and pumpkin snickerdoodles due to their simplicity and timeliness. Now, the club is eager to progress to more advanced desserts.

Although traditional in-person meetings are forbidden, Becker and Perez have found many advantages in virtual meetings, ranging from using kitchens to the credibility of attendees. According to Perez, she has even noticed multiple family members baking together with the students.

I feel like it’s more engaging than last year because the people that are here now really want to be here. They’re in it for the baking and sharing their love of baking, rather than just coming and eating food.”

— Cooper Perez

“I feel like it’s more engaging than last year because the people that are here now really want to be here. They’re in it for the baking and sharing their love of baking, rather than just coming and eating food,” Perez said.

Gaitan concurred, noting that she’s also seen personal growth from several members. 

“I think it’s cool to see everyone’s different techniques. Last week, those who didn’t have certain ingredients found alternative solutions, which I thought was an excellent idea,” Gaitan said. “Even though we are distant, in many ways, it’s way more hands-on than we could ever be in a classroom.”

Although mentioning that virtual meetings helped Baking Club in some ways, Gaitan also addressed what would happen if Carlmont returned to in-person learning.

“Once quarantine ends, we will probably return to in-person meetings just because of logistics. Meeting online would require us to meet sometime outside of the school day,” Gaitan said. “I know that as students return, our extracurriculars and sports and everything will result in our schedules filling up quickly.”

With only two meetings this year, the club has seen a decrease in attendance; however, Perez and Becker aren’t fazed. During freshman orientation, the club created promotional videos to spread the word about their club. With these videos, the two have attracted an estimated 15 to 20 consistent members.

Currently, the club is working more towards gaining publicity rather than increasing the frequency of meetings. According to Becker, the club uses Instagram to promote their club. In addition, they’ve set up a club Remind to quickly send out information about upcoming meetings. 

Despite the difficulties COVID-19 adds, Becker and Perez remain optimistic about their situation and have already started to plan for the club’s future.

“We’re really excited for what’s to come. Although there is still uncertainty due to COVID-19, I’m excited to bake with all the members and share our love for baking,” Becker said. 

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