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RPS students help prep ‘Those Who Excel’ banquet

We’re looking forward to tonight’s nominee reception for the 17 Those Who Excel nominees, and this year will be a little extra special for some RPS high school students.

Students in the Culinary Arts program, along with Hoffman House, are helping prepare food for the celebration. We shared a look inside the Hoffman House kitchen yesterday on our Facebook page with several pictures from a recent visit. A few weeks ago, I dined with a colleague in the Communications Department, Monica Bayne, at Hoffman House for breakfast. She had the thick French toast, and I had the American Skillet. We were impressed with the food prep (we had a behind-the-scenes look and met all the students who cooked our breakfast and other food for the Hoffman House), and the food was delicious. I can’t wait to go back!

Culinary Arts 2Some background on the program: For nearly 30 years, RPS has partnered with the Hoffman House to offer high school students a culinary arts and food preparation vocational education training program. Students in the vocational education program help staff at Hoffman House prepare food, fill the salad bar and dish up meals for banquets – like the one this week. In the culinary arts program, students learn proper knife skills, kitchen cleanliness, how to operate kitchen machines and cook for hundreds of people at a time. They also learn teamwork, job skills and how to build a resume and land a job working in the service industry. Students who have completed the program have found success in culinary arts colleges, other jobs both in and outside food service, and even at Hoffman House.

When we visited, students we met were working hard and excited to be there. They’re learning practical, hands-on experience in the kitchen. And the program, led by Patty Oliveri, works with students’ strengths. Guilford senior Shannon Blue, for example, loves art and is very creative (lots of the students are!). She takes her love of art and paints beautiful dessert plates so that delicious cheesecake is also just as appealing to look at.Culinary Arts 1

Culinary arts 3Mrs. Oliveri is so passionate about the program, and it shows. The students feel that support, too. They’re excited to show off their work and skills, and they’ve been featured on the news for their work, as well. Here’s a great story from 23WIFR: http://www.wifr.com/home/headlines/Culinary-Arts-Program-in-Rockford-Public-Schools-245262561.html

Here’s a list of the students in this year’s program:
Shonice Binion, Auburn senior
Shannon Blue, Guilford senior
Kole Fager, Guilford  senior
Stephen Jardeen, Auburn  junior
Sandy Ocon, East senior
Emily Purintun, Jefferson junior
Josephine Sybers, East senior

I hope everyone enjoys tonight’s celebration, especially knowing RPS students helped!

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