The Missouri Capitol is now in gingerbread form. A group of Algoa Correctional Center inmates in Jefferson City has whipped up the perfect spicy cookie ingredients to make a scaled back version of the Capitol.
Mary Connell, a vocational teacher at the prison, says the baked creation took her culinary class several weeks to design from conception to final decorating. It stands roughly a whopping 50 inches long, 25 inches wide and 36 inches tall. The cookie masterpiece even has a 3D figure of Ceres – the agriculture goddess – on top of the Capitol dome.
“I kind of pushed them. I said, ‘We can’t dilly and dally,’” she says.
Connell says the students have crafted several gingerbread houses this holiday season already, but the Capitol was the icing on top of the cake.
“This year, being the 200th year of Jefferson City, I brought up the idea, ‘Hey guys, do you want to try to do the Capitol?’ They’re like, ‘Oh that would be awesome!’ You know, they got all excited,” says Connell.
Out of all the gingerbread houses her class has made, she says this project has blown all the other ones out of the water. Connell says it has unleashed incredible energy and imagination in her culinary students.
“Oh, it was ecstatic. I mean, our classes are well driven. They come in and they think, ‘Oh my gosh, she is so hard.’ Because I am. I’m strict, by the book and you’re going to do all your curriculum. Then we do something fun and they get over me being so hard and strict on them. And they take their imagination, which is just awesome to watch. But every day they come in, they say, ‘I thought of something else that we need to do for this Capitol!’ It’s their energy that brings this to life. It’s just an awesome feeling to watch them think outside the box sometimes and feel the accomplishment,” she says.
Connell has been with the Department of Corrections for 22 years. She says she sees change in her students on the first day of class all the way to Graduation Day.
“Once they get into the class and they get to enjoy what they do, I see them come out with somewhat of a purpose,” she says.
The cookie art will be on display at the Algoa administrative office until early next year.
To hear the full interview, on Show Me Today, click below.
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