Long Waiting List For Popular High School Elective Courses
Students Want A Taste Of Culinary Arts
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A course at a local high school has become so popular there is a huge list of students waiting to get in. And not to take away from other important classes such as reading, writing and arithmetic...this is a course that teaches something so practical, students will more than likely use what they learn there every day for the rest of our lives.
I went to Independence High School in Charlotte to get a taste of the culinary curriculum. From all appearances, what I stepped into could have been the kitchen at one of Charlotte’s finest restaurants and the people I saw could have been some of the area’s finest chefs! But it wasn’t a restaurant and they weren’t actual chefs.
They’re students in the culinary arts program at Independence High School and the kitchen is their lab. They’re the lucky ones. At least 200 students are on a waiting list for the classes, the intro level, culinary one, and culinary two.
Gabby Esposito actually put off early graduation so she could take the class, saying, “I took this class because it was the best experience I’ve ever had and the best teachers. I bring the stuff that I do here and bring it home, I make it at home.”
The classes not only cover the food side of culinary arts, they cover the business side. And some students even earn a coveted ServeSafe certification showing they are knowledgeable in food safety and food borne illnesses. It's a nationally accredited certificate that is highly desired in the food industry.
I asked Eva Iwuchukwu how it helped her out and she told me, “They paid me more than other employees even though it was my first job and I got a raise before everybody else too."
Luvena Campbell and Reginald Sutton are the culinary arts instructors at Independence. Both are Johnson and Wales University graduates and both have extensive restaurant experience.
Campbell says, “A lot of people back in the day, I guess, had a perception that culinary is like that old home ec class. It’s really evolved in the last ten years and we’re really advancing the students in their skills, their foundations.”
According to Sutton, “What I want students to take out of this class is the value of hard work, exercising their creativity and showing them there are so many opportunities out there in the world of hospitality and culinary arts.”
Many of these students will never work in the food industry, but what they learn here will serve them well no matter what they choose to do.
Independence principal David Legrand says, “There’s nothing that’s going to take the place of a home cooked meal. So we want students to take advantage of the opportunities that are available to them in high school and culinary is one of those. So that whatever they decide, to go to college, to go into the world to work, they still have that skill that will sustain them for the rest of their lives.”
And the culinary program is not only popular at Independence High, it's one of the top electives at other high schools. Educators feel so strongly about culinary courses that at least five local high schools put in all new kitchens this school year.
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