BROWNSTOWN — Fifteen Brownstown Central High School students just started taking Nancy Manuel’s Culinary 1 class in the new trimester.
Their first big assignment was to split into pairs to organize a Thanksgiving meal, deciding what to serve, who will make each dish and who to invite.
As soon as they arrived in the family and consumer sciences classroom Nov. 16, the students were making last-minute preparations before the staff members, friends and family members each of them invited filed in to fill their plates.
This was the third year for Manuel’s students to serve the meal, which this year was called Harvest Harmony as chosen by a class vote.
While she joked that some days, she wasn’t calling it harmony, Manuel was proud of the students for coming together to continue the tradition.
“They came up with it and got right on it,” she said. “We had to get the invitations out really, really quick. We had to decide about dishes. I told them everybody is going to be working.”
She was glad to see them work in harmony.
“These days, we need all the harmony we can get,” Manuel said. “I have actually witnessed growth because some of them, I’ve had before for other classes, and they are forward thinkers. They know what has to be done. I try to make it fun.”
The menu consisted of jalapeno poppers, a charcuterie board, a cheeseball with crackers, ham, pot roast, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, macaroni and cheese, Parmesan broccoli, stuffing, dinner rolls, pumpkin pie cheesecake, angel food cake, cookies and drinks.
Juniors James Deaton and Trinity Acton paired up to make the jalapeno poppers, mashed potatoes, stuffing and pumpkin pie cheesecake.
“It’s something I would want to eat,” Deaton said of his culinary choices, noting of the four, his favorite is mashed potatoes.
“We just found things that we both enjoy, and we put it together,” Acton said. “For the pumpkin cheesecake, we were like, ‘Pumpkin pie,’ and then we were like, ‘Cheesecake.’ Put it together, you get both, so we just put it together.”
The jalapeno poppers included a sliced jalapeno filled with cheese and cream cheese and wrapped in bacon.
“He said it and I was like, ‘Oh, yep, we need to do that,’” Acton said. “Every year, I make those all the time, so it’s kind of like, I wouldn’t say a specialty, but I love to make those, and I just share it with other people.”
Her favorite of the four foods they made?
“How do you pick?” Acton said, smiling.
Deaton said he has been taking Manuel’s classes since his freshman year, and they are beneficial because he wants to be a baker.
“I’m kind of antisocial, so it has helped me with talking to other people,” he said.
Acton said she cooks at school and home.
“It just helps me open up with other people to communicate better, I’d say, and help work together with other people,” she said of the classes at school. “It just brings everyone together, I feel like.”
They agreed it was good to see the class work in harmony to put the meal together.
“I feel like we’re all a big family,” Acton said. “We all just help each other when we need it. We step in, no matter whose dish it is, and we get along really well. … We just figured that out, and we made it work.”
They particularly enjoyed the opportunity to serve school staff.
“It’s good to see how they react to my food,” Deaton said.
“It is a way for us to give to the staff for what they do for all of us,” Acton said. “They are here for us every day, so we share how they help us.”
The students also used colorful construction paper to make centerpieces in the shape of turkeys and pumpkins with positive words on them and placed them on the tables.
Next up, Manuel said the students will be making cookie platters and distributing them to staff members.
“They are going to be busy,” she said.