How Cake Day came to be
Homecoming, prom, and football games are traditions that Conant shares with many other high schools. But not every school celebrates Cake Day–a Conant tradition held annually on the Monday during the week of Pi Day.
Every Cake Day, students bake and decorate cakes to represent concepts they learned in their social studies classes.
Cake Day wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for social studies teacher Jeffrey Stewart. When asked how he came up with the idea, Stewart said, “I think it was four years ago. In government we always talk about how federalism is this idea that it’s either layer cake or it’s marble cake.”
Stewart explained the types of federalism: “Layer cake, there’s distinct powers of the government….And then marble cake, on the other hand, is a way you would describe the powers of both state and federal government that are similar.” He continued, “I always taught it that way, and then it just occurred to me: why don’t we just have a day where students bake the cake?”
After coming up with the basic concept of Cake Day, Stewart had to decide when his students would bake their cakes.
He decided to hold the first Cake Day on a Monday–and it just happened to be March 14.
“I was like, well, wait a minute, that’s Pi Day, but then I thought for democracy, that’s perfect…because democracy is about choice,” Stewart recalled. “The students should choose. It should not be all about Pi; it should also be about cake. And so I like to say Cake Day is an antagonist alternative to Pi Day.”
The creation of Cake Day has been the source of some banter between the social studies department and the math department.
Although the library holds a Pi digit memorization contest, Conant’s math classes don’t have as widespread of a celebration for Pi Day as the social studies classes do for Cake Day. Social Studies Department Chair John Braglia jokingly said, “Once again social studies emerges superior to the math department–and you can quote me on that.”
Cake Day quickly spread beyond Stewart’s own classes. Braglia was with him from the start. “Mr. Stewart came in and explained Cake Day and why we should do it,” he said. “And I was with him. I thought it was brilliant.”
Psychology teacher Vaishali Tajpuria joined in the celebration of Cake Day at the request of her students. While the day is largely enjoyed by students, it is also gratifying for teachers.
Tajpuria said, “I enjoy seeing the students’ passion for making cake; some of them get really excited about baking and are really into their design.”
Stewart summarized, “It’s just, again, stupid, creative ideas to try to get students interested. That’s really the idea.”
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