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'Let’s try it’: Cupcake Wars added to annual Facts, Food and Fun competition for Carroll County high school students

Carroll County high school students gathered at the Carroll County Career & Technology Center to compete with their skills in the kitchen and the classroom on Thursday with a competition called “Facts, Food and Fun.”

The event started with an Academic Challenge, continued with Food Wars and ended with Cupcakes Wars.


The Academic Challenge pitted Francis Scott Key, Westminster, South Carroll and Liberty high schools against each other. The students were quizzed on a variety of subjects including math, history, English, geography and biology. Reigning champion Francis Scott Key took home the grand prize of $200 for its Academic Challenge Club. The winning FSK students were Molly Schneider, Zach Brown, Mina Rohde, Mason Francisco, Elizabeth Mahoney, Levi Mendenhall, Cotton LeBeau, Connor Forgette and Daniel Dreyer.

The Food Wars competition is in its third year at the Tech Center and has gained traction each year, according to Betsy Donovan, acting principal of the Tech Center. A total of six groups made up of two or three members participated this year with students from Century, Westminster, Liberty and Winters Mill high schools.


For the Food Wars competition, the students were given a mystery basket containing a protein, a starch and a vegetable, similar to the television show “Chopped.” Students were unaware of what the mystery items would be and had to apply critical thinking into what they could make in a 45-minute time frame. They had to present two plates, one for judging and one for tasting. This year the students were given beef, carrots, potatoes and broccoli. Each dish was judged based on appearance, taste, texture, sanitation and work dynamic, according to culinary instructor Tim Norwood.

The prizes for the competition were donated from members of the food service community, some of which have participated in the competition before. Prizes ranged from cookbooks all the way to a Cuisinart food processor. The winners were able to pick their prizes after they completed the competition.

According to Norwood, they try to have a connection with food service members of the community through their program advisory committee.

“We either make a phone call or send a letter out looking for local food service and they’ve always been a great help,” said Norwood. “Usually they’re the same ones that hire students and we work with them for internships as well. So, it’s a good connection between school and local businesses. We try to help them by providing them some employment and they help us by providing goods.”

According to Norwood, they have some students working in local Carroll County restaurants now.

Group 4 from Century High School was composed of Katie Opauski, Emily Krueger-Soles and Oluma Anude and they took home first place prizes of cookbooks, spatulas, measuring cups and a knife set.

The three freshmen didn’t think they would make it to first place their first time competing after going up against mainly upperclassmen.

“We’re kind of young compared to the rest of the competitors,” said Anude. “We were joking about if I win, my whole Grammy speech that I would give.”


The night ended with the Cupcake Wars competition where participants were given precooked cupcakes to decorate according to a theme. This year’s theme was Summer Beach and contestants were given proper decorating tool such as assorted frostings, paint brushes and fondant decorations to get as creative as possible. The contestants weren’t judged on taste like the Food Wars competitors but more so on colors, uniformity and creativity.

Participants in the Cupcake Wars were composed of three groups from Manchester Valley, Westminster and Francis Scott Key high schools.

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Cupcake Wars is the new part of the event this year. After seeing how great the Food Wars competition did, Food Network lover Donovan decided to add it into the competition.

“Food Wars has been going on, this will be it’s fourth year, and this one keeps growing each year. We decided to introduce Cupcake Wars to see if we can get that to grow," said Donovan. “Since we’re here at the Tech Center, we have everything they need to do it and we were like, ‘Well, let’s try it.’"

Haley Wilson, of Manchester Valley, won.

The winners for each competition are as follows:


Academic Challenge: First Place: Francis Scott Key, Second Place: Westminster, Third Place: South Carroll, Fourth Place: Liberty

Food Wars: First Place: Group 4 (Century High School) Katie Opauski, Emily Krueger-Soles and Oluma Anude; Second Place: Group 6 (Liberty High School) Sheamus Frasher and Scott Arrington; Third Place: Group 1: (Westminster High School) Patrick Fringer and Kevin Holcomb.

Cupcake Wars: First Place: Group 3 (Manchester Valley High School) Haley Wilson; Second Place: Group 2 (Westminster High School) Raven Haller and Ethan Fletcher; Third Place: Group 1 (Francis Scott Key High School) Andrew Ossterfield and Jessica Woodhull.