7th Grade writing assignment catches attention of restaurant chain

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Pictured here is Josh Dubin with his family, left to right, brother Marcus Spiker, 6, Josh, Logan Dubin, 10, and mom Eliana Bravo. Pictured here is Josh Dubin with his family, left to right, brother Marcus Spiker, 6, Josh, Logan Dubin, 10, and mom Eliana Bravo. MARGATE – Josh Dubin, a seventh grader at the Eugene A. Tighe School, is a persuasive writer. So persuasive that an essay he wrote for his language arts class caught the eye of executives at a large restaurant chain and was turned into an animated short video that will be shared by millions on the Web.

Students in teacher Rose Pinter’s balanced literacy classes learned how to write persuasive and explanatory essays this year. Their assignment included writing a five-paragraph essay about their favorite restaurant, describing the food, atmosphere and service. Students also wrote business letters to send to the restaurants along with their essays.

Josh wrote to Chili’s in Mays Landing, which has “the greatest-tasting, best-smelling” food, he wrote. “It makes my stomach roar,” including the “salad stuff.”

“The food calls your name slowly luring you into a trap of deliciousness,” he wrote.

Pinter said many of the students received responses from restaurant owners thanking them for their patronage with gift certificates, T-shirts, hats and other logo-encrusted merchandise, but Josh’s response was by far the best.

In addition to congratulating Josh for his writing ability, Jonathan Parrish, the manager of the Mays Landing Chili’s restaurant, wrote a note to Josh saying he made his day and would pass the essay onto his manager, and so on until it reached restaurant’s corporate headquarters in Dallas. In all, Josh received six letters from various Chili’s managers, who thought Josh’s writing was complimentary to the Chili’s brand.

Then, Pinter received this message from Social Media Coordinator Erin Stevenson at Chili’s headquarters in Dallas: “Our Chili’s social media team was sent an awesome letter from one of your students Josh D. He wrote a quick letter about his love for Chili’s and then shared an essay he wrote about Chili’s. An actual quote from the essay is, ‘It is like someone took a burger and shoved heaven into it.’ The essay had us laughing and we want to pay Josh back for the laughs.”

Payback was $200 worth of “Be Our Guest” certificates and lunch for 57 of his classmates.

“I took my grandparents, mom and younger brothers out to dinner, but I still have some certificates left,” Josh said.

“I like to eat there whenever I get off-shore,” he said as he waited in the Chili’s buffet line in the EugeneA.TigheSchool Tuesday afternoon.

The restaurant set up the buffet for the entire seventh grade class and students ate in the school’s courtyard, dodging seagulls trying to steal their baby-back ribs.

But that’s not all. Josh got to be the subject of an animated film that will be used to promote the restaurant chain on the company’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.

Account Executive Pat Harrington of the company’s advertising firm, Hill Holliday of Boston gave the seventh graders an overview of how animated videos are made and an impromptu career day lesson about working for an advertising agency. Josh recorded the voice-over for his cartoon character.

“We loved his essay because it had several jewels of lines, such as the piece of heaven reference and if you eat at Chili’s ‘you can be 20 percent cooler,’” Harrington said.

The video delighted his classmates. Following lunch, Josh, his teacher and mom were interviewed for a live video that will be shared on the company’s blog, blog.chilis.com.

“All the shots taken today will be presented with the animated video and posted on our blog which has the theme ‘More Life Happens Here,” Stevenson said. “We use the blog to share stories of life all over the world.”

“If there was anyone I could have hand-picked for this it would be Josh,” Pinter said. “It really gave him a boost in his school work.”

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