Cooking lesson at Hopewell High

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Hanover High School students and teachers dressed up to enjoy a fine dining experience in the school cafeteria on November 3. (Photo: Anthony Lewis)

HOPEWELL, Hannover – There was no plastic fork or paper lunch box in sight inside the cafeteria at Hopewell High School on a day dedicated to teaching formal meals to students.

The smartly dressed youngsters – some of the boys wore three-piece suits – enjoyed the meals served on real plates. The metallic clink of their knives and forks filled the air as they ate.

This was all part of an initiative to give students the soft skills they will need for years to come.

“I’m extremely proud. I’m proud of the concept because it’s about empowering our students. Developing their social skills. Making them global citizens so they can function outside of school and in society. in general; because a lot of times they look academic, but when they go out, they’re not employable,” Marcia Scott, the school’s education manager, said of the Nov. 3 event.

HASTINGS… the meal included meat and vegetables from the school’s vibrant farm (Picture: Anthony Lewis)

She is also the Health and Family Life Education Officer for the Department of Education for Region Four.

“This is just one of the ways we try to instill in them positive values ​​and life skills that they will need to function in society,” she added.

She believes this is something that can be emulated in other schools.

The initiative is the brainchild of seventh grade supervisor and master teacher Sophia Manning who said there were many sleepless nights as they worked to make the event a first class success.

Year seven student Denecia Farrawge enjoyed the lessons (Picture: Anthony Lewis)

For some of the 160 students who participated, it was their first time in a formal setting.

“The program was put in place so that we could help these students. We wanted to give them the experience because most of these students are from lower socio-economic backgrounds and therefore most of them would never have been in a function like this.” Manning explained.

“Some of them were so happy that they had never seen this before. They couldn’t believe it had all been prepared for them,” said the experienced educator. For the event, her sleek black outfit was complemented by a fashionable gold mask that hid the upper half of her face.

Like Scott, the school’s principal, Byron Grant, stressed the importance of the initiative. He believes his impact goes far beyond the dining room.

MANNING…they couldn’t believe it had all been prepared for them (Picture: Anthony Lewis)

“We have to teach students how to behave socially, because sometimes it’s because we don’t teach students how to behave socially that we have some of the indiscipline in society,” Grant said.

He pointed out that going to school is about more than just being smart about reading.

“We want to teach them how to dress, how to dine in a formal setting. This is how you behave, this is how you use the knife and fork. It’s not everyday you go come here and sit down and use a plastic fork to eat from a paper box. We need to teach you how to use a knife and fork in a formal setting,” Grant said.

Seventh-grade students Denecia Farrawge and Cadija Freddington said they appreciated the initiative.

Freddington… it was just a really good experience (Photo: Anthony Lewis)

“I loved it. It was really nice,” said Freddington, wearing a delicate champagne-colored dress complete with faux pearls around her elegant bun hair.

“I didn’t learn much because I already knew [but] it was just a really good experience,” she added.

The school’s board chairman, Dalton Hastings, is also among those who hope other schools will emulate their efforts and is willing to share any information needed. For example, he noted, the meal included meat and vegetables from the school’s vibrant farm. The menu included goat curry, barbecued chicken, escovitch fish, soup, potato salad, vegetable salad and dessert.

The formal dining and etiquette lesson is just the latest in a series of encouraging events at Hopewell High School.

GRANT… it’s not everyday you’re going to come here and sit down and use a plastic fork to eat from a paper box (Picture: Anthony Lewis)

Principal Grant praised the parents of the 1,180 students this term. He said they support the school and their children.

The school continues to do well academically with significant improvement in recent Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Education (CSEC), City and Guilds and National Council for Technical Education and Training exams and professionals (NCTVET). His students recently achieved 100% pass in NCTVET.

Additionally, Hopewell High has a new team of physical examination teachers on staff, as part of a larger effort to improve its standings in athletic competitions.

The school is particularly proud to have celebrated in December 2019 its first victory in the Television Jamaica’s All Together Sing competition.

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