Pizza shop serves up learning for students

Class gets a first-hand look at a how a business works.

SUQUAMISH — The students stared at everything: the solar system hanging above their heads, the industrial-sized oven taller than their heads, the thick clumps of dough waiting to be shaped.

But it was the pizza-tossing that drew their cheers.

Eighteen Suquamish Elementary kindergarten students made the walk to Bella Luna Pizzeria Monday morning as part of their career unit. Earlier in the year, the students visited the post office and the fire station, and later, in their marine science unit, they will take a jaunt to the beach.

But Monday was about pizza, and the students’ guides, Bob and Kari Rowden, the restaurant’s owners, escorted the wide-eyed students into the kitchen.

“We’re going to throw together a cheese pizza for a snack. How would you like that?” Bob asked.

Students responded with the first cheers of the day.

Rowden then showed the students how he worked each day. He prepared pizza sauce, pouring in huge cans of tomatoes, a pinch of pepper, several cups of herbs and garlic powder; he got the dough ready in a huge mixer, adding flour to a wet mixture to whip the dough into shape; and soon enough he had a flat circle of dough that was ready to be thrown.

Bowden flicked the dough into the air.

The kids cheered.

He flicked it again, higher.

The students cheered again.

Rowden explained how he used math in his everyday work, often making difficult conversions in his head.

“One thing lots of people don’t realize is that cooks have to be really good at math,” he said, balancing a load of cheese on a scale.

Teacher Jamye Lyons said the visit to the pizzeria fit in well.

“In our social studies unit is about the community, and we’ve been doing things out in the community,” Lyons said.

She also thought the students learned about the importance of math: “All that math he was doing helps teach them about conversions and weight,” she said.

As the kids crowded into the small booths for their freshly-made snack, Lyons said the trip had an unexpected bonus.

Bella Luna’s decor features a moving solar system that hangs from the ceiling, as well as stars and moon decorations around the walls.

The kids stared up at the decorations as they ate.

“Our next unit is on the solar system,” said Lyons. “When I saw this I thought, ‘Oh, this is perfect.’”