T.H. Watkins holds PTO meeting cookout

T.H. Watkins holds PTO meeting cookout

Teaching kids how to be leaders can be tough when they're in the fifth grade. A local volunteer managed to turn a cooking event into a lifelong lesson.

Parents and students of T.H. Watkins Elementary School took part in their second PTO meeting of the school year.

They kicked off an event where fifth graders took charge of creating a welcoming environment for their parents by cooking and serving to help teach students about leadership skills.

Principal of Watkins Elementary Kay Victorian said teaching how to take charge is their first priority.

"Our school mission is to teach our students how to be lifelong leaders," said Victorian. "So, Mr. Pettefer volunteered to help our fifth graders."

Paul Pettefer is a local volunteer and helps out all over the Lake Charles area. He said he wanted to find a way to help Watkins Elementary and teach students a lesson as well.

"One of the wishes of the principal was to have a bigger participation in the PTO," said Pettefer. "And I said well, wow, I'll cook. That'll make it inviting."

Pettefer did more than cook. He managed to show a leadership lifestyle by teaching students about supplies, cost estimates, serving and maintaining responsibilities. He said he was excited to hear such great feedback from the students at the first PTO meeting.

"I was listening to some of the fifth graders afterwards telling each other 'wow'," said Pettefer. "They said they're going to tell so and so they missed the best day ever. All that did was tell me that if we give kids a chance to serve and lead, they'll thrive."

The PTO meeting was followed by "Math Night" where parents, faculty, students and volunteers created a night of learning with math games, demonstrating the skills learned in the classroom that are based on common core curriculum.

Administrative intern Phyllis Godfrey helped manage classrooms and activities for "Math Night" and said she wants parents to use these methods at home.

"I'd like for the kids and the parents to take in what we're doing as far as math," said Godfrey. "That way, they can help their kids at home."

With the help of volunteers and staff, the fifth graders led the school to one of the highest turn outs to a PTO meeting the school has seen in years.

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