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Patriot Culinary Students Demonstrate Skills, Help Out in Community

Sixteen-year-old Corinne Dewey shelves cookies hot out of the oven onto a cooling rack.

Students in the culinary arts program at Patriot High School had a busy Friday – first cooking lunch for Prince William County Superintendent Steven Walts, then baking cookies to go to families at House of Mercy in Manassas.

Culinary II students prepared a full holiday-sized meal for Dr. Walts and other school administrators. The meal included roast beef, potatoes, vegetables and pies for dessert.

“It is wonderful to see our students preparing for career opportunities in the culinary arts,” said Dr. Walts. “Their cooking makes it clear they have an appetite for the lessons. The meal was amazing in taste and presentation!”

Chef and culinary arts teacher Emily Stevenson also perceived the meal to have been a success for her students and program at Patriot.

“It went well. We got excellent feedback, and they asked to come back in the spring,” said Stevenson. “My kids came away from it very energized. They were very excited.”

Amber Fogelberg, Corinne Dewey and Emili Perkins lay out cookies onto the baking sheet.

Likewise, students were happy with their food and presentation.

“Everything that happened was what we expected,” said Tydon Murphy, who attends Woodbridge Senior High School, but takes culinary classes at Patriot. “I feel like we performed well.”

Stevenson said it is the second time her students prepared food for Prince William School administrators, and that the meals served as an opportunity for those administrators to see and taste the accomplishments of the program first hand. While that kind of presentation can be nerve-wracking for students, they handled the situation with ease and professionalism.

“I like to show off. My classmates come to me for advice,” said Murphy, sounding confident in his culinary skills, which he believes to have progressed a great deal during his time at Patriot.

Building specialty student Dylan Franco mixes chocolate-chip M&M cookie dough.

“(This year has been) way more hands-on, and there’s a bigger range as far of what we’re able to cook,” Murphy said. “I’m able to demonstrate my skills in different aspects. I feel like everything I do, even at home, has been enhanced.”

Later that day, culinary arts students joined with building trades students for a meeting of Patriot High School’s Skills U.S.A. Club, a national Career and Technical Education (CTE) student organization.

At this meeting, culinary students guided the building students through the process of baking cookies. Chef Stevenson then planned to take those cookies to the House of Divine Mercy, where they would be served to people in need at their annual Christmas party. Students also collected toys from fellow students to be donated to House of Mercy that would be delivered along with the treats.

In the kitchen, it certainly smelled divine with the scent of double chocolate mint-chocolate chip, M & M chocolate chip, peanut butter and snickerdoodles filling the air.

Dyan Franco peeks at the cookies to see if they are cooled enough to be packaged.

Building student Dylan Franco said he has enjoyed working alongside the culinary students. While sampling the food was on of the benefits he especially appreciated, he also admitted to enjoying cooking.

“I cook with my mom, sometimes,” Franco said. “Everyone has to cook with their moms.”

And where building students helped bake cookies, culinary students will soon be building homes alongside Patriot Building students and Habitat for Humanity as Skills U.S.A. has volunteered its services with that organization. Students seem excited to go beyond their discipline and lend a helping hand.

“We’re like a family,” said student President of the Skills U.S.A. Club at Patriot Amber Fogleberg, of the CTE students. She described the experience of having the specialty of culinary in high school as bringing her educational experience “to a different level.”

Stevenson has heard similar sentiments from other students as well, who have told her they feel more engaged in culinary than they do in their more academic classes.

The cookies all look delicious and ready to be sent off to House of Mercy.

However, more than just offering a hands-on approach to learning, Stevenson is dedicated to providing the kind of professional level training one would find at a college or trade school even as she encourages her students to go on to higher education in their chosen field.

Last year, she judged a Skills U.S.A. culinary competition at Chantilly High School, and thought, “We can do this.” But before she enters her classes in such a competition, she hopes to test the waters by having a friendly competition between Patriot and Chantilly.

And while they are careful to take things one step at a time, Stevenson does not doubt the quality of the education offered in culinary, nor the dedication of the students to the trade that will likely lead them towards prosperous careers.








© 2012, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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Category: Community Service, Education

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