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New student barbecue team bringing the heat in Lakeland

Polk County

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – There’s a new student club in Polk County that’s bringing the heat.

The new barbecue team at George Jenkins High School is the first of its kind for the district.

“Take this portion of the flapper and spread it out,” teacher Matt Townley said as he demonstrated how to cut through a chicken wing.

“They started doing the injections, they started doing the trimming, they started doing the rubbing and they really kind of caught on,” said Townley, who helped make the club a reality. “We’ll explain it and then just give them the knives, give them injections and let them see us do it and then (they) do it.”

More than a dozen students are part of the team now named GJQ.

“I wanted to learn how to cook and here I am,” senior Maleik Alterno said.

“I’ve always wanted to learn how to do barbecue,” said junior Isabelle Shim.

The team formed in September and has about 15 students.

Not only are they learning to cook, making new friends and building their resume, but they’ll also compete in their first competition at the upcoming Pigfest in Lakeland in January.

They’re hoping to finish with a job well done.

You can learn more about GJHS BBQ or donate to the team by contacting Matt Townley via email at


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