Students at Krystal Elementary turned the school's cafeteria into Hollywood on the Mesa last Wednesday night, at the school's annual gingerbread house competition.


"It was called our Gingerbread House Exhibit," Tom Kirk, principal of Krystal School of Science, Math and Technology, said Thursday. "Academically, it was to enforce building skills, measurement skills and cooking skills. This year's theme was a movie. It was chosen by our student council, and it seemed like the kids enjoyed it."


There were 52 entries in the competition. Students (and their parents) built Rapunzel's tower from "Tangled," Charlie Brown's backyard from various "Peanuts" specials, Shrek's hut in the swamp and more.


"We push quality in our student work, and I think it reflects in projects, too," Kirk said.


The school hosts a variety of optional, hands-on projects over the course of the year, to better engage students in the science and math and give them opportunities for extra-credit projects.


"We have the pumpkin launch in the fall, this in the winter and the science fair in the spring. In May, we have an 'egg drop' for the (5th and 6th) graders, as they are challenged to create a container to keep their egg alive," Kirk said.


"It gives kids a different route to showcase their talents," the principal continued. "We hope it increases the desire to come to school and get involved. Also, the more we can continue to increase parental involvement, the better off the everyone is."