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Dominique Hilt, left, and Maggie Wieland, work as part of the senior class team to build a backdrop of American flag in a memorial to 9-11 with Twin Towers Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009, at Central Catholic High School in Bloomington. (The Pantagraph/CARLOS T. MIRANDA)

BLOOMINGTON -- Central Catholic High School students took a bite out of the Big Apple this week with a homecoming project that involved building tributes to New York out of canned goods that will feed the hungry.

Instead of wasting hundreds of dollars on making homecoming parade floats, high school students built structures from cans to reflect their homecoming theme "New York, New York." The creations, which ranged from tributes to the Yankees and John Lennon to Sept. 11, will be judged today.

The cans and other food stuffs used will be donated to Clare House.

"This is our first year," said Drew Talkington of Bloomington, pleased he was a senior in the initial year of what promises to be a new CCHS tradition.

Normal Community High School started a similar tradition last year, nixing floats in favor of building playhouses sold to help charity.

The CCHS senior class used hundreds of red, white, and blue cans to create the backdrop of an American flag in a Sept. 11 memorial featuring Twin Towers made of silver cans.

The seniors planned their design a month ago and executed it in little more than an hour on Thursday.

To prepare, they collected about $5 from each classmate to buy 1,100 color-specific cans cans. They even did a practice run earlier this week, finishing construction in 90 minutes that time, said Talkington, one of the builders.

"I'm sure they (the can projects) will get more elaborate and better every year," said Tony Fabrizio, assistant principal and homecoming adviser.

The freshmen and juniors hadn't planned quite so well; both groups had to slip out during the two-hour building time Thursday to get some extra cans.

Freshmen made a tribute to John Lennon and Central Park, spelling the word "Imagine" with cans of brown beans.

Juniors made a giant Times Square billboard with a poster for the musical "Wicked" on one side and "Lion King" on the other.

The sophomores built Yankee Stadium using several items in addition to blue and white cans to show team colors. Boxes of spaghetti helped for the field, toothbrushes the baselines, and tortillas for the pitcher's mound.

The toothbrushes and soap used will be donated to Operation Santa for the troops overseas.

"I definitely feel like this brought us together," said Laruen Cassidy, a junior.

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