Area students can get a crash course on life skills they will need once they "leave the nest" thanks to a new class now offered through Kingsland Community Education.

"We're offering this class for juniors and seniors who are moving out of their parents' homes after graduation," said Kingsland Community Education Coordinator Jennifer Dessner, speaking of the "Life Skills Crash Course" class set for Monday, April 9, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the Kingsland special education room at Kingsland High School, taught by Rita Bezdicek and Ruth Franke.

"Kids no longer receive home ec-type classes, and families have little time to cook, let alone teach their children to, so we felt the need was there. I also interviewed several senior high boys and most of them had no idea how to cook or do a load of laundry," Dessner explained.

"I think parents as a whole have gotten into the habit of doing too much for their kids, and the side effect is that they are not prepared to do these basic life skills on their own any longer."

The "crash course" is meant to avert any life skills crashes newly-minted young adults are likely to encounter if they're not ready to cook for themselves, do their own laundry, repair their clothing instead of going out to buy that $75 pair of jeans and being unable to pay next month's rent, handle credit and budget their money. It's because Mom's not moving with them (that's the point of moving out).

Cooking skills Bezdicek and Franke will demonstrate include preparing a "creative casserole," beginning with browning hamburger and removing excess grease. They will also show class participants how to prepare chicken breasts, using a meat thermometer for meats such as chicken, beef and pork.

The class will discuss proper standing time, storage of poultry and refrigerator and freezer safe zones, boiling water and cooking pasta. The instructors will share the difference between fresh and frozen vegetables and compare cost, time and nutrition. Class attendees will also learn to make French toast and pancakes and how to store extra pancakes and reheat them.

The lessons won't stop when the chow's served, however, as Bezdicek and Franke plan to talk about food groups and what constitutes a balanced meal - definitely not McDonalds' fare - and compare the expense of cooking "creative casserole" with buying frozen food or going out to eat, as well as the cost of a pound of hamburger and eating out, which leads to learning to budget one's money.

The budgeting portion of the curriculum will address "keeping track of expenses for at least one month, including rent, groceries and clothing," pointing out that entertainment isn't the first item in the budget. The instructors will also discuss how to responsibly be a credit cardholder - suggesting that paying off the balance monthly is prudent in maintaining a shiny credit score that will ultimately reflect on one's character when seeking a loan. They will also give advice on finding financial aid for various purposes, primarily educational.

As in high school, the best dressed is more likely going to be the most popular and successful, so the guy who turns the flannel shirt inside out to wear it a third time definitely needs guidance. Franke and Bezdicek have the answer to that, as they plan to teach students how to "repair a seam, sew on buttons, do laundry ... sorting, washing and preventing wrinkles."

Dessner stated that there's plenty of room for more participants to join the class, and that registration is underway immediately. Cost of the class is $8 per student, payable to ISD #2137.

For more information or to register, contact Jennifer Dessner at 507-346-7276 ext. 4100, or e-mail her at dessner.jennifer@kingsland.k12.mn.us.