Putting others first (WITH GALLERY)

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 7, 2024

BURLINGTON — A group of fourth and fifth graders at Burlington Elementary School were midway through a three-week course on Thursday in which they learned the “Keys to being a Gentleman.”

Principal David Ashworth started the Gentlemen’s Academy four years ago, when he was assistant principal at Ironton Elementary, and, now, in his second year at Burlington, he has launched the program there as well.

Ashworth said those enrolled have been learning things, such as basic manners, handshakes, how to tie a necktie and hygiene, as well as a variety of skills.

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“They learned to read a road map and how to use a tape measure,” he said.

On Tuesday, they learned automotive skills, paying a visit to nearby Harless Towing and, on Tuesday, they got a lesson in cooking from cafeteria worker Marty Webb.

They prepared a meal in the school’s kitchen in the after-class session and the enthusiasm was evident as they spoke about it.

“We’ve been making our dinner,” Samuel Payne said. “We’re making chicken nuggets and mashed potatoes.

Austin Morris talked about the process.

“We opened up cans of green beans and we’ve been peeling potatoes,” he said.

As they worked, Ashworth reviewed what they had learned, pointing out that they were looking for softer potatoes as they were preparing them.

“If they’re not soft, they won’t taste very good,” Webb told them.

In the kitchen area, Ashworth noted the flames on the stove, using the opportunity to educate the children about natural gas and how it transported, as well as other utilities, such as water.

He noted that South Point, Burlington and Ironton have separate water systems and pointed out that the source of drinking water can vary, coming from wells or the Ohio River.

Ashworth said the biggest purpose of the Gentlemen’s Academy is to “get them into a mindset of how to think of others.”

“How their actions can make the world a better place,” he said. “The importance of putting others before themselves — the basic Jesus teachings.”

After the food was ready, Ashworth touched on manners again, advising that they should not eat until the entire group is ready. Both he and Webb joined them at a cafeteria table for the meal.

He also left them with one homework assignment for the coming days, asking them to pick a chore their parent usually does and to surprise them by doing it, anything from washing dishes to making beds.

Webb told them of how impactful it could be to their mothers.

“When you do something to help her, she’ll think, ‘He cares about me,’” she said.

Ashworth said they would discuss the project at a future session.

“Jump in there and do it, and then you can tell us about your experience,” he said.