Culinary Students’ Gingerbread Designs

Culinary Students’ Gingerbread Designs Are ‘Uniquely Alleghany’
Posted on 12/13/2023

The “Uniquely Alleghany'' display features popular landmarks in Alleghany County: Humpback Bridge, the Alleghany County Courthouse, Penny’s Diner, the C&O Heritage Center, the Historic Masonic Theatre, Jack Mason’s Tavern, and the Visulite Theater ((R/C Movies 3).  

“Students in the Culinary l and Culinary ll classes took part in the competition. The students had about three weeks to create their gingerbread displays, the theme of the competition was ‘Uniquely Alleghany,’ and each team chose a local landmark to recreate,” said Robert Fehle, culinary arts instructor at JRTC.

Culinary arts is part of career and technical education (CTE) programs offered by Alleghany Highlands Public Schools. At JRTC, culinary arts classes are offered to high school students in grades 10-12. After completing Introduction to Culinary Arts, which gives students a basic introduction to the food industry, students receive more advanced training in Culinary Arts I and II. Culinary Arts I gives them in-depth insight into working in the food industry. Culinary Arts II introduces students to kitchen management skills.

The “Uniquely Alleghany” project gave students an opportunity to showcase their skills and work together as a team. The team competition came about through discussions between Fahle and Donna Beirne, a retired educator, who serves as president of the Alleghany Highlands Arts and Crafts Center’s Board of Directors. 

The “Uniquely Alleghany” name for the competition was chosen to coincide with Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Tourism’s marketing theme for the region. 

“This is way beyond making a cute little gingerbread house. I think these students should be commended for the work and great detail they have put into these designs,” said Nancy Newhard, curator and education coordinator for the Alleghany Highlands Arts and Crafts Center. 

Newhard noted that the students conducted painstaking research to make sure their designs accurately reflected the unique features of each landmark.

“These students had to do a whole lot more than make gingerbread. I think their work is just amazing. The people who have viewed these works in our gallery have really enjoyed them, and they have commented about how impressed they were,” she said.  Beirne also commented on each design’s intricate detail.

“These designs are just so detailed. I love one of the pieces where you can see a banana peel in the trash can. The students at JRTC did an outstanding job,” she said. 

The winning design was the C&O Heritage Center, a popular Clifton Forge landmark that tells the story about the history of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway.

Beirne hopes the gingerbread competition will become an annual tradition with the students and JRTC staff working to make the competition better each year. She also hopes to work with other programs at JRTC as part of the Arts and Crafts Center’s education and outreach efforts.  

The “Uniquely Alleghany” gingerbread display will remain at the Alleghany Highlands Arts & Crafts Center through Tuesday, Dec. 19. The center is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday hours are 1 to 4 p.m. The center is located at 439 E. Ridgeway St.

The Alleghany Highlands Public Schools Division was created through the merger of Alleghany County Public Schools, Covington City Public Schools and Jackson River Technical Center on July 1, 2022. The school division serves approximately 2,700 students and it is jointly funded by Alleghany County and the City of Covington.  

AHPS news and events are regularly updated on Facebook at AHPublicSchools and on Instagram at ahpublicschools. Information is also available on the division website



Jackson River Technical Center culinary students conducted elaborate research before intricately designing gingerbread replicas of popular Alleghany County landmarks. The designs are featured in the first ever “Uniquely Alleghany” gingerbread display at the Alleghany Highlands Arts and Crafts Center. (AHPS Photo)


Jackson River Technical Center culinary students sharpened their skills and learned the value of teamwork while competing participating in the inaugural “Uniquely Alleghany” gingerbread contest. The students designed very detailed replicas of well-known landmarks in Alleghany County. (AHPS Photo)   


Culinary students at Jackson River Technical Center spent three weeks designing “Uniquely Alleghany” landmarks from gingerbread. The designs are on display at the Alleghany Highlands Arts and Crafts Center until Dec. 19. (AHPS Photo)

Heritage Center-A gingerbread replica of the C&O Heritage Center was the winning design in the “Uniquely Alleghany” landmarks contest at Jackson River Technical Center. JRTC culinary students worked in teams to design gingerbread replicas of popular landmarks in the Highlands. (AHPS Photo)


Alleghany County Courthouse-The Alleghany County Courthouse in Covington is among gingerbread designs featured in the “Uniquely Alleghany” display at the Alleghany Highlands Arts and Crafts Center. The design is so detailed that a banana peel can be seen in a refuse can in front of the courthouse. (AHPS Photo)


Penny’s Diner-Penny’s Diner in Low Moor was selected by Jackson River Technical Center students to be part of the “Uniquely Alleghany” gingerbread design contest. (AHPS Photo)





Jack Mason’s-Jack Mason’s Tavern, a popular gathering spot in Clifton Forge, is featured in the “Uniquely Alleghany” gingerbread display at the Alleghany Highlands Arts and Crafts Center. (AHPS Photo)

Masonic Theatre-The Historic Masonic Theatre in Clifton Forge is featured in a gingerbread display at the Alleghany Highlands Arts and Crafts Center. The “Uniquely Alleghany” gingerbread display continues at the Alleghany Highlands Arts and Crafts Center through Dec. 19. (AHPS Photo)

Humpback Bridge-JRTC culinary students chose to create a gingerbread replica of Humpback Bridge as part of the “Uniquely Alleghany” landmarks contest. The design includes the Virginia LOVE sign that is featured at Humpback Bridge. (AHPS Photo) 

Visulite Theater-A gingerbread design of the Visulite Theater (R/C Movies 3) in Covington illustrates the historic research conducted by Jackson River Technical Center Culinary students before they created replicas of landmarks in the Highlands (AHPS Photo)

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