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Students in one course at Edison High School are gaining knowledge and learning to build their independence.

   Ron Ferrell instructs grades 7-12 in his Life Skills class, which provides hands-on training into everything from cooking to cleaning and laundry. Ferrell has taught the course for the past six years and said it gives students lessons they can truly use all the time.

   “My students learn how to prepare basic meals or dishes, such as eggs, toast, waffles, pancakes, grilled cheese sandwiches, homemade pizza, soups, hamburgers and macaroni and cheese. They learn how to wash dishes properly and how to clean the kitchen area.”

   Ferrell added that the lessons have built skills which can benefit them both at home and at work. This past year, Ferrell instructed eight students including four sophomores, three eighth-graders and one seventh-grader. He gifted each one with unique items to remember the class and use in the future: the five boys received a weed eater and safety goggles while the girls gained aprons, a kitchen utensil set, beach towel and breakfast sandwich maker. They also receive a cookbook of recipes they can make in class and at home.  

   “All of the students really enjoy learning how to prepare meals and then eating them,” he said. And they aren’t the only ones enjoying the fruits of the class’s labor.

   “The staff here at Edison supports the program by donating money for Thursday lunches.  In the winter, we prepare different soups for the staff on Thursdays every week and hamburgers and hot dogs during the warmer months,” Ferrell explained. “The proceeds from the lunches pay for the students’ Christmas and end-of-the-year gifts.”

   The youth have also completed tasks both inside and outside the school until COVID-19 preempted their plans. In the past, juniors worked at King’s Restaurant and Sign America and performed janitorial jobs at the Lighthouse Church in Richmond. Additionally, they helped serve lunch, worked in the kitchen and cleaned tables at EHS. Ferrell said he did not have juniors this past year but hopes to re-establish the work program during the next school term.

   “My work program starts back up next because I have six students that are eligible. I will be contacting local businesses at the end of summer to see which ones want to participate.”

   Meanwhile, Ferrell hopes to do even more with the class.

   “I am hoping to take a field trip or two this upcoming school year with the donations from these lunches.  I really enjoy the program and my students love to be involved.”