Paul Cuffee 4th Graders Share their Ceramic Talent and Willingness to Help Others with November’s Empty Bowls Event


PCS 4th graders use their ceramic talents for their Empty Bowls project to aid Rhode Island’s hungry families.

A lump of clay, an apron streaked with glaze and a visit from Andrew Schiff of the RI Food Bank all signal one thing: Empty Bowls.

Under the direction of visual arts instructor Michelle Carden and 4th grade teacher Kelly Barr the 4th grade orchestrated their annual “Empty Bowls” event, an integrated curriculum project whereby the students design and create unique ceramic bowls in art class, and invite parents and guests in to share soup and bread in a fundraising event that benefits the RI Food Bank. The event generally raises more than $1500 for the Food Bank. The students have been studying the devastating effects that hunger has world-wide as well as in their own community, and ways in which they can help alleviate hunger.

Donors have been organized to cover the expenses of the project so that 100% of the funds raised are given to the Rhode Island Food Bank. PCS parent, George Garcia, has donated hand-made bowls to supplement the supply of bowls hand-made by the students and staff of Paul Cuffee School. Whole Foods is graciously donating the soups and Calise and Sons Bakery the rolls.

Nowhere was the school’s mission statement more evident than during this Thanksgiving season where students demonstrated “personal initiative, perseverance, and social responsibility.”

PCS 4th graders Gene Kelly and Gifty Bediako took a moment from preparing from the event to reflect on its meaning. “Our bowls are cup-shaped and brightly-colored and were fun to make in art class. But that night [the night of Empty Bowls] it’s more about inviting our family and friends to help us help the poor in Rhode Island.”


Average Class Size: 20
Current Enrollment: 820
Students of Color: 96%
Female Students: 51%
Male Students: 49%
Free/Reduced Price Lunch Eligibility: 82%
Multi-Language Learners: 19%
Students Receiving Special Education Services: 13%
Total Employees: 168
BIPOC: 45%
Female Employees: 75%
Male Employees: 25%