Eighth-grader Sam Gerber carefully holds a paring knife to the outside of a red apple, slowly cutting away the skin in small flecks. Beside him, Sabelle Guido waits to chop up the apple, which is destined for an apple crisp. Across the small classroom kitchenette, Kim Clifford is mixing pieces of butter with oats and brown sugar.
It’s fourth period at Lincoln Middle School in the Portland School District, where all eighth-graders are required to take family and consumer science class – a class known to students of an earlier generation as “home ec,” short for home economics.
“Kids need these skills,” said Rhonda Mayer, who’s been teaching the course for 31 years. “Yes, for some it’s viewed as old-fashioned, but I think these skills are timeless.”