New Pizza Oven Brings Education, Community, and Pizza to MHS

11/2017

By Jackson Markow

 Students construct the foundation of the oven in June, led by Tom Sabo

Students construct the foundation of the oven in June, led by Tom Sabo

Almost anyone with an observant eye has noticed this spring, summer, and autumn, the periodic buzz of activity filling the MHS courtyard.  And now, when one walks through the courtyard, or from the end of the science wing to the greenhouse, it is hard to miss the imposing new structure of clay, wood, and stone looming off the south side of the garden shed.  This new structure, of course, is the our pizza oven, put to test (quite successfully) in this year's Fall Harvest Celebration and promising to play a unique and beneficial role in education, community, and gastrointestinal satisfaction at Montpelier High School for years to come.

 Pizza oven and roof finished in October (photo courtesy Solon Salutes)

Pizza oven and roof finished in October (photo courtesy Solon Salutes)

Working over several months, students, faculty and staff have worked tirelessly to construct the oven, from bottom to top, led by a determined group of leaders including Tom Sabo, Jason Miles, and Sam Bromley (among others).  The Spectrum reached out to Sabo in June to get the story of the pizza oven.  Sabo, amidst the hubbub of the construction of the oven's foundation, stated that "for a long, long time, [MHS teachers] had toyed with the idea of putting a pizza oven in here," but that the idea had just this year acquired funding from the Center for Sustainable Systems.  This allowed Sabo and others to proceed with planning and construction.  Initially, the pizza oven would have been built where the garden shed is now, but after the shed's construction, the plans were shifted to place the pizza oven coming off of the shed itself, with the intent of "making the courtyard more and more of a feature on campus", says Sabo.

After the foundation of the structure was finished in June, Sabo's summer work-study program Farm, Food, and Society constructed the main structure and the kiln before its first firing in August.  And in September and October, Jason Miles's Woodworking Design classes, with help from Tyler Strange and Social Studies teacher Myles Chater, worked to design and build the wooden roof that covers the pizza oven.

Sabo states that the oven will be used "primarily for events like the Fall Harvest Celebration", but that it will also be used by classes such as Mr. Bromley's Applied Chemistry class, and for other special events where the oven will be advertised as a feature.  Sabo also states that he hopes the oven will eventually be used "on certain Fridays when pizza is cooked for the school in the oven".  And if other teachers want to use the pizza oven for their classes, "they can either be trained to use it themselves, or we can have Mr. Bromley be the master of operating it."

 Sam Bromley pulls a hot pizza out of the oven in September

Sam Bromley pulls a hot pizza out of the oven in September

It is uncertain what role the pizza oven will play in MHS's future, but right now it looks to be on track to do great things.  Already, the pizza oven's short history is steeped in great learning and great pizza, and it seems that only more of the same is to come.  So let's raise a glass to the hard work of all those who brought the oven to us, and then let's grab a slice.