KETTERING, Ohio (WDTN) — When was the last time you shared a meal with someone you didn’t know well?
Before COVID — and the tech revolution — it used to happen a lot more often. But now, many young people have never experienced that type of scenario, leaving them at a disadvantage in the adult world.
The “Supper Club” at Kettering Fairmont High School is aiming to change that and change lives in the process.
Fairmont sophomore Camryn Liming says when she started high school she was a little nervous and shy.
But the Fairmont Supper Club changed all that.
“It’s actually gotten me to come out of my shell more because I have to change how I talk with certain people,” Camryn said.
The Supper Club involves about 40 students every month who meet for a meal and conversation.
Dozens of professionals from around the Miami Valley also join in, giving the students practice at adult conversation.
The thing that mentors bring is a breath of fresh air to the students who don’t know what it’s like to talk to adults,” Camryn said. “They don’t know what it’s like to go through a dinner line. They don’t know what it’s like to have an actual dinner with a set of people they don’t talk to on a regular basis.”
Fairmont’s west unit principal, Jenny Britton, came up with the idea for the club several years ago.
“We want these students to be prepared for life after high school and that means a lot of different things besides their GPA,” Jenny said. “I want students to be contributing members of our community. I want them to be proud to live in the Dayton area. I want them to celebrate all the opportunities that are here.”
And it’s not only valuable for the students. The adults who take part say they have a great experience, too.
“I think it’s important because so much of our lives right now — especially for teenagers — is on screens,” said Libby Ballengee, mentor and music booker at the Brightside. “Even for myself to break away from my laptop for a minute and just have some face time. I think it’s really healthy for us.”
“If you have the opportunity to come, come join us,” Camryn said. “It’s super fun and easy and there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
The club was just gaining momentum when the pandemic hit in 2020. It was forced to take a hiatus but came back last year after one of the sponsors offered a thousand-dollar donation to help get things going again.
This year, they are back to meeting once a month.