New Kitchen To Advance Culinary Program

Teacher Made Wish List For New Classroom


Emma Thom

In the existing kitchen, FACS teacher Rachel Mitchell works with students in Prostart 1 Oct. 25.

     Since the school opened, there has been a thriving, award-winning culinary program, allowing students to work in a professional-grade kitchen and prepare to pursue culinary arts as a career. But with popularity and accolades comes demand, and more students wanted to enroll than there were spots and room available. The solution? Build a new kitchen. 

     The building is under construction, and among the new additions is a new kitchen. In addition to providing much more space, the kitchen will provide opportunities for students to advance in the field. When it was clear that the increase in student population meant construction was imminent, there were ideas about what would be built. One idea was for more traditional classroom space, but the other was to make a new kitchen and art room. 

     “They had a couple of variations of options,” foods teacher Rachel Mitchell said. “One of them included a new art room and a new kitchen; one of them did not.”

     With the two ideas, the school board voted and ended up settling on the new kitchen and art room, according to principal Larry Smith, Ed.D. 

     “That was a collaborative effort from our district leadership, our building leadership, feedback from our teachers as well as enrollment data,” Smith said. 

     Once plans for the construction of the new culinary space were complete, decisions about kitchen equipment were made. The existing kitchen didn’t have all of the advancements that would normally be found in a restaurant.

     “The general classroom space does not feel to be much larger than this; the difference is the layout of it,” Mitchell said. 

     The new kitchen will have a new classroom space, which is laid out differently to make room for more equipment.   

     “I’m most looking forward to seeing the space that we will get to be able to safely move around and cook,” ProStart Foods student senior Emma Thom said. 

     While the existing kitchen has allowed culinary students to thrive, it does not offer everything that Mitchell would like for her students.

     “Before they showed me anything, I gave them a wish list,” Mitchell said. “They were like, ‘What would you want in this room?’ and I was dreaming big dreams.”

     The new kitchen will also have a new dish room, which Mitchell said would make doing dishes faster and more efficient. The existing kitchen will be used for International Foods class and used if other classes need it, Mitchell said. 

     The new kitchen allows students to access things that would be in a restaurant kitchen and help them with their food creations. It will give opportunities to students to try out new career options for their future.

     “I think this particular addition will allow for more students to be a part of the programs like Pro Start,” Smith said. “And to have experiences that are authentic to what it’s like to work actually in the food industry.”

Hollis & Miller Staley Bond Project Highlights