A New Haven birthday party turned into a real-life food-in-politics lesson Friday at Wexler-Grant School.
State Sen. Gary Holder-Winfield conducted the lesson inside the Wexler-Grant library. He and schools Superintendent Garth Harries dropped in on ten students of the K-8 school to mark New Haven’s 376th birthday.
The senator spoke about the development of New Haven’s original nine-square street grid and a little about what he does for a living. (He started out as a power-plant engineer before entering politics.) He asked the ten students—all standouts of a Wexler-Grant behavioral program called “PRIDE”—their career goals.
Fourth-grader Kiania Kelly, who sat rapt by Holder-Winfield side, said she plans to become either a lawyer or a veterinarian. Others spoke of becoming a doctor or a singer or a forensic scientist. One student plans to become a meteorologist who first studies mythology in college.
Then Holder-Winfield got down to business. He had brought a marble birthday cake donated by Claire Criscuolo of Claire’s Corner Copia. She also donated vegetable-based colored frosting in plastic bags. How, Holder-Winfield asked the students, should we decorate the cake?
Some suggested writing “Happy birthday New Haven.” Another suggested writing “earth.” Sometimes people vote to make decisions like this, Holder-Winfield said. Other times, he and other political leaders try to forge a compromise among people with different opinions. That’s what they did here. They decided to put both messages on the cake.
That proved a bit tricky. Squirting neat lines of frosting from the plastic bags posed one challenge. So did fitting all the letters of the two messages. Like the process of passing bills (sometimes compared to making sausage), the cake-decorating necessitated last-minute changes. Holder-Winfield suggested the group settle for “Hav” rather than the full “Haven.”
Unlike a legislative bill, the finished product here had a short shelf life, so any compromises were destined to disappear rapidly from public view. The decorating complete, Holder-Winfield used a knife to divide the spoils so the students could taste Claire’s famous baking.
Holder-Winfield asked the students how “New Haven’s birthday tastes.” Between bites, fifth-grader Angel Coe, the budding meteorologist, weighed in with a one-word answer: “Delicious.”