Students offer early Thanksgiving

Published 8:00 am Thursday, November 23, 2023

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The students in Kate Tharpe’s Life Skills class at Randolph-Henry had a plan, one they put together last week with very little help. The goal was to show what they had learned this semester, inviting family, friends and school staff members to a brunch. And they did more than just offer invites. They put together the whole thing themselves, in what you might say was a bit of an early Thanksgiving. 

“The students showcased their skills and hospitality by creating a meticulous shopping list, taking a field trip to purchase the groceries and preparing all the delectable food for the event,” said Randolph-Henry High Principal Erin Davis. 

And on Wednesday, Nov. 15, they got to work. All of the invitees showed up and were served by the Life Skills class members. Much like the ‘Bowtie Boys’ project at Bacon District that we reported on earlier this fall, the Life Skills class is designed to help students grow and develop outside of the classroom. They can learn how to work together as a team, fix food in the kitchen, fix equipment, prepare for and present events. And this time, the ‘early Thanksgiving’ was met with applause from staff and family members alike. 

More than that, projects like this in Charlotte County are gaining attention not just in the region, but across the state. We’ve mentioned before how Charlotte County Public Schools excelled in Standards of Learning test scores. The district ranked 18th in Virginia this year, beating out dozens of larger groups. Also, unlike every district around, not only are absence numbers dropping in Charlotte schools, some are falling below pre-pandemic levels. Here is where the Life Skills project and other such programs come in. They give students something to experience hands-on. 


In the Chronic Absenteeism task force meetings, such as the one you’ll read about in this edition, those “hands-on” projects are mentioned as ways to get more students engaged. It’s been recommended that other districts take a page from Charlotte and similar places, where the data shows these concepts are working. 

And for one day in November, the students involved in this specific project got a perfect score from those in attendance. 

“From planning to execution, these students demonstrated exceptional teamwork and culinary skills, making the event a success,” Davis said. “A big round of applause to Mrs. Tharpe and her Life Skills classes for bringing warmth and community spirit to Randolph-Henry with this memorable brunch!”