A group of special youngsters from Stevenson Elementary got to experience a “fancy” dining occasion on Wednesday as they were treated to a Teddy Bear Tea at the historic Breathitt House.
The students in kindergarten through second grade were selected based on having great attendance and excelling in academics. They boarded a bus at the school and got the to take a special stuffed friend along with them.
“I decided to start hosting a Teddy Bear Tea for the students after trying to find a program to replace the incentive cards that used to be given to little ones to give them discounts at local businesses as a reward for having excellent grades and school attendance during each grading period,” said Alicia Carmichael, the community education director for the school system. “I had hosted a Teddy Bear Tea years ago in my home and it was such a hit I thought the children at Stevenson would love being able to bring a special stuffed animal to school to have tea with them as a reward for earning the equivalent of all As and not missing school except for an absence excused by a doctor or the school nurse.
“Earning good grades and coming to school each day takes commitment and I wanted, through Community Education, to encourage Stevenson’s youngest students to work hard in school and keep up a strong work ethic. I also wanted to use the tea as a way to reinforce table etiquette and social skills for the children.”
This was the second year for the event, but this week’s was the first time it was quite this fancy.
“During the last school year we held the Teddy Bear Teas in the Stevenson cafeteria and provided animal crackers and milk as the treats,” Carmichael said. “While those teas were nice, thanks to pretty table linens, flower arrangement and other decorations we incorporated, I wanted to make the teas even more special for the children. I think this grading period’s tea, which was held at Breathitt House, was much nicer for a couple of reasons. First, we were able to have it in a historic setting, thanks to Rotary allowing us to use Breathitt House.”
During the tea, the students were given a little local and state history lesson.
“We told the children a bit about the life of Gov. John Breathitt and gave each child an easy-to-read hand-out about the late governor and the kinds of games he might have played as a child.”
The meal was catered by Russellville High School’s Panther Catering students. They made teddy bear cupcakes, cookies, fruit and other treats for the students and also made a special fruit tea for them to drink from their fancy tea cups.
“The Panther Catering students, taught by Christy Marksberry, catered the tea and did a phenomenal job,” Carmichael said. “They prepared lovely trays of made-from-scratch teddy bear cupcakes, fruit skewers, ham rolls, sugar cookies and fruit tea for the Stevenson children and came to Breathitt House to serve the little ones. To top it off, they provided an etiquette lesson for the younger students and gave them a chance to see high school students’ hard work in action.”
The teas will continue throughout the year at the end of each grading period.
“Now I’m excited that the January tea will include a visit from Joan Howard of the Kentucky Division of Innovation and Partner Engagement. Joan is a historic re-enactor and will read a story to the children as Mary Todd Lincoln,” Carmichael said. “In the setting of Breathitt House, with the help of Panther Catering, this will give Stevenson Kindergarten through second grade students who work hard in school and earn the chance to come to the tea a fun and educational program just before Presidents Day in February.”