By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
If the school board had any input on grading, they probably would give all nine students in the Pro Start class an A+.
After last week’s holiday meal served during a break from their December meeting, the board and guests went away with full stomachs and smiles.
How could they not, with a meal that featured prime rib and glazed ham with cherry sauce, complemented with two choices of potatoes, vegetable bundles, a cranberry salad, rolls and cheesecake for dessert?
At the start of the meal, guests could open with a mandarin cashew tossed salad or black bean and pumpkin chili.
Class instructor Cathy Hanna said the class, started a few years ago before she returned to teaching fulltime, is designed to prepare students for entry into the food service industry.
Two of her nine students this year are seriously considering food service as a future profession, Hanna noted.
And, many of them are working in food service now in parttime jobs, or may choose to do that in college.
Hanna said it’s a good preparation for parttime work, and adding completion of Pro Start looks good on resumes.
The textbooks used in the class come from the Nebraska Restaurant Association. Much of the book material centers on food service regulations and food safety.
Hanna said they follow the text, but in their labs, or the hands-on part of the class, they prepare what the students are interested in.
Last week’s dinner for the school board and guests is their biggest effort of the year, Hanna said.
The students look professional, all decked out in white coats as they took orders from each person then delivered their selections.
She would like to see some of her students attend high school competitions in the state, which feature events similar to “Iron Chef” or other individual categories like plating of a purchased dessert, where the focus is eye appeal and presentation, she said.
There is a curriculum for a Pro Start II class, but that isn’t on the schedule this year. Hanna said most students can’t fit Pro Start into their schedule until senior year.
She said she really enjoys the class and has “a good group this year.”
Hanna said she’s hoping to present some curriculum changes for the 2009-2010 school year that might require a nutrition class prior to taking Pro Start.
She is also hopeful for a future sports nutrition class, which she said is in the planning stages now.
Students in this year’s Pro Start class, which runs both semesters, include Carlos Cardoso, Raquel Castillo, Casey Francis, Brett Harmon, Matt Hayes, Toni McDaniel, Elizabeth Morse, Brittney Reichard and Josh Richmond.