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Mills Elementary School first-grader Stephen Grey

Mills Elementary School first-grader Stephen Grey scarfs down a red licorice rope that he used as a snowman’s scarf after cooking with Kelly Walsh High School students on Thursday morning in Casper, Wyo. Teaching the elementary school students how to make cookies that looked like melting snowmen helped the high school students hone their own culinary skills.

CASPER, Wyo. -- Before students in the advanced foods class at Kelly Walsh High School can begin cooking competitions, they must first learn how to give directions to assistants.

This week, their assistants were first-graders from Mills Elementary School. Kelly Walsh students gathered ingredients and directed the younger students on how to decorate cookies to look like melting snowmen.

Teaching others requires the high school students to concentrate and really think about each step involved, said Rochelle Rice, who teaches culinary classes at Kelly Walsh.

"These guys want them to do very well and have fun," Rice said. "They're not really competing against the table anymore."

Besides being able to eat their creations, the kitchen assistants also benefited from the lesson. Mills first-graders are reading and writing "how-to" guides while learning about nonfiction.

"We wanted to give the kids a chance to follow a recipe for step-by-step directions and see something we may not be able to have them see in our classroom," said Amanda Yentes, who teaches at Mills.

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The trips also introduce students to high school as a fun place to learn, Rice said.

Mills students who made cookies Thursday had just learned about what happens when a step is missed, and several of them were quick to stop their cooking instructors when something was out of place.

After first-grader Braxton Willcox finished his first cookie, he grabbed the pastry bag of frosting to add arms to his melted snowman. Kelly Walsh junior Kammi Michael watched and asked if he needed help.

"No," Willcox said, squeezing out squiggly lines of brown frosting. "I know how to make it by myself."

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