Friday, November 17, 2017
Washington High School celebrated the opening of its new culinary arts lab with a ribbon cutting ceremony on November 16. Community partners, donors and culinary arts volunteers toured the new space and enjoyed gourmet refreshments prepared by students. About 60 guests and dignitaries attended the event.
The MPS culinary arts program is now in its second year. Using a national curriculum called ProStart that was developed by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, students take part in a two-year program that prepares them for careers and further education in the restaurant and hospitality sector. Across the country, culinary arts jobs are in high demand.
The ProStart program has been implemented in four MPS schools: Bay View, James Madison Academic Campus, Vincent High School, and Washington. This year, 478 students are enrolled in the program.
Students participate in three classroom sessions and two labs every week. During labs, volunteer chef mentors from across the city work with students to fine-tune skills, answer questions about the industry, and help students develop a professional demeanor for future employment.
“We hear so much about the skills gap these days,” said Dr. Darienne Driver, MPS superintendent. “This program jump starts students to accelerate their employment and promote their success in further education.”
Thanks to generous donors and community support, the new culinary arts lab is equipped with commercial-grade equipment so students can learn and work on the
same kinds of equipment that local chefs work with every day. Major donors include the Barbara Ann Stein Charitable Trust, Herb Kohl Philanthropies, Brewers Community Foundation, Aurora Health Care, Herd-Barber Charitable Fund, U.S. Bank, and Irgens. Jennifer and Joe Bartolotta of the Bartolotta Restaurant Group have played a major role in promoting the program and attracting chef mentors.
Expanding access to career readiness programs aligns with MPS’ Eight Big Ideas to promote student achievement through the Rethink High Schools objective, and works to place every student on a pathway to personal success.