Students at Chick-Fil-a Leader Academy Visit Retirement Community

by | Aug 2023

GIVING BACK to the community is a huge part of the Chick-Fil-A Leader Academy at Coffee County Central High School, and the 23 students that were involved this year stepped up to the plate by hosting a plant potting and bingo night at Parkview Senior Living in Tullahoma. Sponsor Megan Hardy said the activity was chosen based on a survey the residents completed, and they enjoyed the event.

“They really just liked talking to the kids. They liked having someone there,” Hardy said. “The seniors were asking our kids where they were planning to go to school and what they did for fun, and our students also learned a lot about them. There were residents from California and residents who have no family here, and so that was great for them to experience that.”

The students planned the games, prizes, and food, and each resident left with an individual potted plant. The students spent around 30 hours preparing and implementing the project, said sponsor Lacey Brown. The event was just as important for the students as it was for the residents.

“Had it not been for that project, none of them would have been exposed to that population,” Brown said. “There’s always something you can do. There’s always a group you could help, a service you can provide, or just something else you can do, and I think it opened their eyes to that. [It’s] easy to help if you just look for places to do it.”

Beyond meeting and spending time with the residents, the students learned a lot about project organization. Hardy said the students organized every part of the project, and the program supervisors were just there to supervise.

Photos submitted by Lacey Brown.

“It’s extremely important for the kids to learn to do everything they had to do to set this up,” Hardy said. “Through this program, they are learning to not just communicate with their peers but also to talk on the phone with people they have never met before and fully plan a two-hour-long project.”

The students do not always start the year knowing each other, and their strengths greatly varied this year. Brown said that initially made it difficult to become a solid group, but it ended up being a good thing, as it gave each individual strength a chance to shine.

“It is always great to watch our students go from unsure of themselves and the program to becoming great leaders planning and hosting an entire day of activities,” Brown said.

“We had theatre students who used their stage voices to read out Bingo numbers so everyone could understand what was being said. We had agriculture students who were able to help the residents pick out plants that were suited to their environment and created cards that showed residents how to care for them. We had other students who were very artistic and could create signs and help decorate the day, and we had other leaders who were just great conversationalists who could sit and talk with the residents and get to know them.”

So far, the leadership program has been sponsored by Chick-Fil-A in Tullahoma, but Manchester will soon get its own Chick-Fil-A location.

“We are pretty sure that that restaurant will be sponsoring this program next year,” Hardy said. “We are very hopeful that this will continue once that new restaurant starts because it has been great for our kids.”GN

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