Sweet taste of victory

Local gingerbread house winner to be showcased on Good Morning America

Amanda Spafford shows off her blue ribbon at the National Gingerbread House competition at Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC.

Amanda Spafford shows off her blue ribbon at the National Gingerbread House competition at Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC.

Emily Spafford proudly shows off her third place ribbons at the National Gingerbread House competition.

Emily Spafford proudly shows off her third place ribbons at the National Gingerbread House competition.

Greenback School teachers and parents are setting their digital and video cassette recorders for Dec. 24 when one student’s gingerbread house is in line to be featured on Good Morning America.

Amanda Spafford, 8, won first place in the Children’s Division of the 17th Annual National Gingerbread House Competition at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville. Her sister Emily, 12, placed third in the Youth Division. Amanda’s entry is one of 10 that the national morning show has chosen.

It’s the second time in three years someone from Greenback School is in line to have a prize-winning gingerbread house featured on national television.

Deborah Potter, public relations manager with Grove Park Inn and Resort said that Good Morning America producers chose Amanda’s house to be one of 10 that could be showcased on the Christmas Eve show. “Not all will make it onto the set. It’s quite a process to get them there, the houses are fragile. They’ll probable take the ones that are in best condition so there’s a chance you’ll see it on Good Morning America,” she said.

The public relations manager said this is the 12th year the Good Morning America has showcased gingerbread houses from the national competition. “Generally it is toward the end of the show, one of the last segments, but that’s not set in stone,” she said of when the gingerbread houses will be featured on the Dec. 24 show.

Greenback Family and Consumer Sciences and Art teacher Merry Spafford said her granddaughter Amanda is excited about possibly having her gingerbread house on national television. “We’re hoping hers is one of them,” the art teacher said. “That is really exciting, she is just floating. Everybody has already got their VCRs and DVR set for Dec. 24, everybody is going to record it. It’s really an exciting thing. They announced it at the school board. It’s neat they’re going to be on national TV.”

Greenback Principal Joey Breedlove was impressed with Amanda Spafford and all the students who submitted entries. “I’m just very, very proud. Every year Merry has students that go up there and do really well, but to get first in the nation - we’re very proud of Amanda,” he said. “It’s great for her and for the program and our school system. I’m proud of her.”

This isn’t the first time Greenback has been featured on Good Morning America for their gingerbread houses. “About three years ago Claudette Ervin, our media specialist, and I made it on Good Morning America when our house came in third place and we had a Youth Division house that made it so we had two houses on about three years ago, ” Merry Spafford said.

Merry Spafford was proud of her granddaughters for all their hard work. “It’s wonderful and it’s neat to see them. It’s almost like a whole family affair, we get together and we’re each working on our own houses. They’re so busy and careful and they take such pride in what they do. It really is a neat thing,” she said.

The art teacher said she also had a group of three sophomores who entered as a team in the Teen Division. “They did a cuckoo clock. Theirs had autumn leaves on it and pinecone trees made out of almonds. They did an excellent job,” Merry Spafford said. “That was their first year entering and they’re excited and they’ve got an idea for next year.”

Merry Spafford said something unique about the teens who competed was none of them are in her class. “They did all their work outside of class and on Saturdays. The three of them - Haley Hampton, Kay Kennedy and Megan Spires – worked together and each put in a good 50 or 60 hours.”

The art teacher said that besides two groups in the teen division and her two granddaughters, she and Ervin always make an entry. “Claudette Ervin, she and I always do one together so we can model the standard we want our kids to work toward,” she said.

Potter said Greenback was very well represented at the competition. “We did have several school groups entered in the competition but it is unusual to have that many students in one school not really close to Asheville compete,” she said.

Potter said it was also interesting that Emily and Amanda’s grandmother Merry Spafford also had an entry. “I was surprised she didn’t place in the Adult category,” she said. “That was a neat part of it to have a grandmother and two granddaughters in the competition. We had one family entered in three out of four categories.”

The public relations manager said the categories for the competition are Child – 5- to 8-years-old, Youth – 9- to 12-years-old, Teen – 13- to 17-years-old and Adult – 18-years-old and older.

Spafford started teaching students how to make the gingerbread houses about 15 years ago as a part of the Family and Consumer Sciences and Art curriculums.

Potter said there were hundreds of entries from 20 states. A panel of 10 elite judges scrutinized the entries. Lisa Hood Skinner of Knox County was a judge.

The gingerbread creativity featured themes running the gambit from castles to barnyards and country inns to windmills. There were depictions of the North Pole, the Grand Canal in Venice, toy trains and even the movie Star Wars. Traditional holiday favorites such as The Nutcracker Ballet and the Grinch Who Stole Christmas made appearances in gingerbread, as did President Barack Obama and the First Family. Photographs of the winning entries can be seen at www.groveparkinn.com.

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