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Charlotte High School students become pitmaster protégés

Agriculture students at Charlotte High School are learning a new skill.

ATASCOSA COUNTY, Texas — Through the smoke and seasonings, a group of agriculture students at Charlotte High School are learning to be pitmasters.

Two months ago, the district gave the go-ahead for a barbecue team. Their classroom is a pit that was built by former ag students three years ago. 

There are five girls on "Barbie-Q" and five boys on "Smoking Bones". They meet a couple of times a week. They work together, but the friendly rivalry keeps them sharp. 

"There's always competition," said Carley Pruett, a freshman on the barbeque team. "I learn new things every day from my teammates. I'm learning new recipes, different ways to cook. It'll help me in the future."

On Wednesday, the students prepared a big meal for the staff. They made brisket, ribs, chicken and beans. 

"I prepared the brisket myself, I mixed the spices together," said Joshua Reyna, a senior on the barbeque team. "I was just taught today and I'm pretty proud of how they turned out."

"We put a lot of hard work into it," said Damien Cruz, who's also a senior on the barbeque team. "It's a lot of fun. We connect like a family."

Soon the students will cook-off against teams from other school districts.

Roy Reyna is the ag teacher and pitmaster showing them how it's done.

"I believe in Atascosa County, we're the only team right now," Roy said. "They're learning what to do, what not to do, fire temps."

These kids are talented in the outdoor kitchen, but most of them don't plan on going to culinary school.

"It's not just so much that they can cook," Roy said. "It's knowing that when they put their mind to something they can accomplish it. They become leaders, they have more confidence."

A lesson that goes beyond the pit.

"Hard work, experimentation and learning from your mistakes can take you anywhere," said Joshua. 

Roy said they are looking for sponsors for the barbeque team since the meat alone costs a couple of hundred dollars for each practice. 

If you'd like to help out, you can call Charlotte ISD at 830-277-1431.