Martha’s Vineyard Students Learn Social Skills By Dining In Restaurants For Free

kids dining – Virginia Woolf famously wrote, “One cannot think well, sleep well, or love well, if one has not dined well.” A shared meal, in the company of conversation and friends, nourishes our humanity and sustains our culture. For seven Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School students, learning to dine well is the keystone in an innovative social skills curriculum created by school guidance counselor, Sharon Engler, and generously buttressed by upscale Island restaurants.

No convincing was necessary –– Atria, Sharky’s, Offshore Ale, State Road Restaurant, and The Wharf Pub answered enthusiastically. Ms. Engler said she was humbled by the immediate support she received. “Every single restaurant owner I spoke with was immediately onboard: within the first few seconds of my explaining the project, they all kept saying how they wanted to be there for our kids, to support them,” she said, adding that the generosity of restaurant owners donating the entire meal has only been outdone by their willingness to share their expertise and time.

Transportation challenges were generously met by Bluefish Taxi Company, which donated a portion of the costs.

Talk about Vineyard Problems. In most places when kids display a little social awkwardness they throw a few Xanax down their throats and tell them to join the debate team to find a few friends. Not on Martha’s Vineyard though. Over there if you get a little nervous around people they throw you and a couple of other kids in a free taxi and comp you a meal at a nice restaurant like you’re Ray Liotta in Goodfellas.

One day you’re a socially awkward geek, the next day you’re being ushered through the kitchen to the VIP table and Sammy Davis Jr. is sending you bottles of wine. Tough life over there on The Vineyard.

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