WARREN - Harding High School junior Meredith Brugler has helped a group of elementary school children attend school more regularly while also earning her Gold Award in Girl Scouting.
Since last fall, Brugler has been holding cooking classes for eight Lincoln K-8 third- to fifth-grade students who had been identified as having attendance issues.
The class, which was offered one or two times a month through early April, was incentive for them to attend school more regularly.
Brugler instructed the special cooking classes to earn her Gold Award.
Brugler said for her award, she decided to use her passion for cooking to help students with low attendance.
"They designed their own aprons and cookbooks. They were very creative and hard workers," Brugler said.
For the final cooking class, the students made macaroni and cheese and cinnamon rolls for their parents and school principals.
"They really enjoy coming to the high school. They were told they could not miss more than two days or they wouldn't be able to to attend," Brugler said.
Brugler will get her Gold Award this summer. She said after graduation she would like to look into a career involving cooking.
Madison Jakubec, a fifth-grader, said she liked to cook - especially the s'more brownies.
"I like the cookbook with all the recipes. I made the grilled cheese at home," Jakubec said.
She said her friends all wanted to know how they can get in the class.
''My attendance has improved. I had zero days absent," she said.
Laci Goett, a third-grader, said she learned about kitchen safety, not wearing baggy clothes and checking the oven.
Davion Christian, a fifth-grader, liked making pizza, grilled cheese and chocolate chip cookies.
Trish DiCesare, liaison at Lincoln K-8, said before the class the students were often tardy or absent form school.
"Their attendance has really improved since the class started. They have also learned cooking skills," DiCesare said.
In addition, Brugler said the students have learned about safety in the kitchen and the importance of working together.
"I am very proud of them," she said.
DiCesare said what is nice about the arrangement is the students are learning from a high school student.
"The students at the high school can be role models and explain why having good attendance in school is important,'' DiCesare said.
She said students' grades have also improved.
Brugler said the students "could choose what recipes they wanted to make and include in their cookbooks.''
She said the students worked well together and always cleaned up the kitchen and work areas.
Mary Pipino, Troop 80117 leader, said plans are to offer the program for next school year.
The Gold Award is a project to make a difference in a scout's community and must include 80 hours. It is the highest honor a Girl Scout can obtain.