Avalon seventh-grader Emma Stanford nibbled on a plain biscuit served on a paper plate while her classmate Spencer Hughes dined on poached salmon mousseline and an asparagus salad served on fine china.

"It's a little disappointing," Emma said, staring at her already empty plate. "I really wish I had the salmon."

"Poor sap," Spencer said mockingly, as he sat up a little taller while waiting on his eclair for dessert.

Avalon Elementary School's seventh-graders were invited to Cape May Technical High School on May 23 to participate in an interdisciplinary project called the Titanic of Tolerance.

The program was funded by a Cape Education Fund Grant and was created by the high school's culinary arts, communication arts technology and early childhood technology students, and its purpose was to show the differences in treatment between the Titanic's first- and third-class passengers.

"We wanted to create a project that would pull in cuisine from my students and at the same time teach respect for one another and tolerance based on the classes on the ship," said Cape Tech Chef Instructor Dave Masterson. "Our hope for this project is that they walk away with a better understanding of one another - no matter what culture or religion you come from, no matter how much money you have, we should all treat one another with the same respect."

Cape Tech's communication arts technology students created an introduction video on the Titanic that demonstrated the varied treatments based on class, the early childhood technology students set up games for the seventh-graders that demonstrated the need for trust and tolerance, and the culinary arts students cooked and served the class appropriate meals.

Based on a random lottery, the Avalon students' fate was decided: Were they in first class or third class? The students each headed to a separate dining room for their class-appropriate meal.

"I was hoping for first, especially after I saw the menu," Spencer said.

"Well, the ship's going to sink anyway," said Avalon seventh-grader Hayley Quinn, one of the unlucky ones, as she nibbled on a dry biscuit.

Contact Elisa Lala:

609-463-6713