Schoolwork pays off with tasty new treat |

Schoolwork pays off with tasty new treat

Josh Benner knows the power of persuasion.In fact, the Aspen fifth-grader scooped up and devoured the results of his persuasive skills Wednesday at Paradise Bakery, where Josh’s Oreo Cookies-n-Creme made its debut in the bakery’s rotation of ice cream flavors.”It’s good,” he succinctly declared after sampling a generous helping.The 11-year-old lobbied the bakery to create his favorite flavor to fulfill a school assignment from his teacher, Tom Hills.Each year, Hills has his fifth-graders at Aspen Middle School write a persuasion paper. Youngsters identify an issue and write a paper outlining a change they’d like to see. They must also come up with three supporting arguments for their proposal, anticipate objections and offer solutions to overcome the potential opposition.The papers are forwarded to the person or parties who are in a position to address the request.”More or less, what the kids are learning is, if they have an issue, and they can be sound and rational – and be diplomatic – they have a voice and they can make a difference,” Hills explained.Josh, who moved to Aspen from Ohio last August, found the flavor selection at Aspen’s Paradise Bakery lacking in one respect and decided to do something about it. The bakery was already producing a variety of cookies and cream using its own cookies. It’s simply better when it’s made with Oreos – the standard cookie ingredient in cookies and cream, according to Josh.”I had it all the time in Ohio,” he said.Danny and Susie Patterson, Aspen residents and owners of the Paradise Bakery chain along with several partners, found Josh’s argument convincing.”Josh sent this letter about why we should have plain old cookies and cream as an ice cream flavor,” Susie Patterson said. “It worked. He was persuasive.”She had the bakery staff prepare the first batch of Josh’s Oreo Cookies-n-Creme on Tuesday night so Josh could sample it yesterday. The new flavor will be added to a rotation of about 20 varieties the bakery offers, she said.Hills, whose Aspen fourth-graders wrote the same sort of paper before he moved into a fifth-grade teaching post five years ago, has seen a lot of requests over the years.Many students seek change within the school district. This year, he has been lobbied to limit homework assignments, have a study-hall period during class time and let students teach a classroom lesson, among other proposals. Hills honors requests when he can. A group of his current charges will be teaching a unit on astronomy, for example, in response to one of this year’s persuasion papers, he said.He wasn’t able to arrange a class outing to the Six Flags amusement park in Denver, though.One student is seeking a smoother surface on the Silver Circle ice rink next winter, one wants a hike in her allowance, another wants a dog and yet another wanted a second pet ferret. “Mom didn’t go for that,” Hills said of the latter attempt at persuasion. Yet another student is hoping to convince librarians at the Pitkin County Library to extend the checkout period for books.When school administrators or community members are lobbied by a student, they often come to speak before the class about why they can or cannot accommodate the request, according to Hills.Several years ago, Boogie’s Diner owner Leonard Weinglass visited to explain the pricing of Beanie Babies at the store/diner in response to a student’s attempt to convince Boogie’s to drop the price of the fad collectible.Weinglass explained how the price was set, but briefly offered a discount on Beanie Babies in response to the student’s pitch, Hills recalled.Patterson, too, paid a visit to Hills’ class after receiving Josh’s request.”We’ve never had this wonderful a result – to have his name attached to a flavor of ice cream,” Hills said. “It really does display the power of writing.”Editor’s note: Faces of the Roaring Fork is a feature of The Aspen Times that appears each Thursday. The goal of these stories is to put the spotlight on people in the Roaring Fork Valley who don’t usually make the pages of our daily newspapers.Stories focus on “regular folks” who have interesting stories to tell. We hope they will run the gamut: people with unique hobbies, people who have overcome some obstacle in life to pursue a dream, people who quietly help others in need, etc.Though we have plenty of stories in mind, we are sure there are many, many people out there worth writing about who will never cross our radar screen. So we are asking our readers to tell us about folks they know who deserve a little recognition, who have interesting tales to tell.Anyone with ideas should call Editor Mike Hagan at 925-3414, or send e-mails to Thanks, in advance, for your help.

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