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SIOUX CITY -- Luis Magana is a pro when it comes to twisting cookie dough into the shape of a red-and-white candy cane.

"I like cooking and I also like to bake," the Bishop Heelan Catholic High School 12th grader said, gingerly taking his cookie creation from a tray to an assembly line of paper plates. "My mom taught me how to bake and so did my grandma."

That meant Luis was right at home during a food consumer science skills class in which 42 students were assigned to make Christmas cookies for Heelan teachers, administrators and support staff.

"It has been a longstanding Christmas tradition for students to bake cookies for their teachers," teacher Kay Bukovich said inside her classroom. "I've been here for 25 years and it predates my time here."

While Luis' culinary specialties happen to be made-from-scratch holiday stuffing and a Mexican dessert called flan, his classmate Dawson Fenton is more adept at making Chicken Alfredo.

"Now that sounds more complicated than it actually is," Dawson said. "It's just chicken and noodles, so it's easy."

Looking over dozens and dozens of freshly baked cookies, Brianna Courtney said she can't choose a favorite.

"I love the colorful ones because they're pretty," she said. "But I also like the chocolate ones since they're so delicious."

An amateur baker in her spare time, Brianna said she makes brownies because "they're not hard to make." 

She contended cookies aren't too complicated but offer a few more challenges.

"Cookies need a bit more baby-sitting," Brianna suggested. "Even if they're slightly burnt, they're still good. After all, they're still cookies."

Instructor Bukovich's favorite baked good is not a cookie nor is it sweet.

"I love making cheese crisps," she said, adding the examples onto a paper plate. "Cookies are too sweet to me. I'll take savoring over sweet."

On the other hand, student Tommy Schiltz doesn't feel the need to discriminate between savory or sweet.

"They're all good to me," he said. "I love eating 'em."

Wait, we thought this was a cooking class in which students make holiday goodies for their teachers, right?

"Yes, it is," Tommy acknowledged. "We eat plenty of cookies but we'll give more of them away."

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Food and Lifestyles reporter

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