DECATUR – The French Academy second-graders knew they were going to Nelson Park on Wednesday, and they knew they were going to have lunch at the Beach House.
What they didn't know is that a classmate's mom and their teacher's son work there, and they were going to get a special dessert.
“It's a watermelon ice, sort of like the shaved ice dessert,” said Shenell Grandberry, whose son, Anteyis Green, was the only child who knew what was coming and, amazingly, had kept the secret. “It's pretty good, to be honest with you.”
The dessert was especially appropriate considering the kids learned the cardinal directions by memorizing “Never Eat Sour Watermelon.”
Teacher Dianne Cox told the students that her son, Nick, the chef, had moved to St. Louis to attend culinary school and stayed there for a while, where he opened seven restaurants. He came home to Decatur to be nearer to his parents and brother and sister.
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“We want to make sure our food is the best in town,” Nick Cox told the kids. “Everybody in the restaurant industry wants people talking about them in a good way. We all wish we were rock stars. We all want to be famous.”
The students saved change and kept their eyes peeled for lost coins on the ground and brought them all to school to pay for the excursion, and Dianne Cox got a discount from the restaurant for the group.
The trip was the culimination of a unit on how to read a map, part of French Academy's STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) focus. The children learned how to ride a city bus, made maps of their own invented parks and followed a map in Nelson Park to find the playground, which was the most important feature of their own parks' designs, too.
Malayia Hill's park included monkey bars and swings, and Jihad Young had a football field, basketball court and swimming pool in his park.
Jihad's mom, Kanisha Young, and grandmother, Jackie Flowers, accompanied him on the trip.
“I like to see what my grandson is learning,” Flowers. “I like to know what he's doing.”