Classroom renovation includes new sinks, ovens, countertops, microwaves
BONANZA – Fystin Qualls carefully sliced into the steak he and his classmates had prepared for their final exam. They marinated the meat in garlic, soy and Worcestershire sauce before pan-searing it, aiming for a medium rare finish.
The high school junior teamed up with seniors Kylie Basso and Gabby Keyes to make a meal out of five ingredients as part of the semester final in their food industry and science class at Bonanza Junior/Senior High School. Students had two days to plan and prepare a meal that included steak, cilantro, oranges, cauliflower, and buttermilk. The meals were then given to school staff members to enjoy and judge.
“We not only learn how to properly cook the food, but also where it comes from,” Qualls said as he examined his juicy, medium rare steak.
The class is part of a new culinary arts program at Bonanza under the agriculture science CTE (career and technical education) pathway. The school, which hadn’t offered culinary arts for nearly 10 years, restarted the program three years agothrough the efforts of ag science and Spanish teacher Marie Kinney, said Bonanza Principal Jordan Osborn. This is the first year it has offered the food industry and science class.
“If students are wanting certain classes, we try to offer them,” Osborn said. “Students were signing up for the general culinary classes in good numbers and we had to cap the class, so this year we decided to expand the options.”
The school also has updated and remodeled its culinary classroom. The first year, Kinney taught cooking classes using countertops and appliances dating from the 1970s. She painted the cabinets, and with the help of Osborn, began updating the space.
Today, there are six cooking stations with new countertops, stainless steel sinks, and industry standard ovens and ranges.The sinks and countertops were purchased and installed in December using grants and private funding. Last year, the school district provided funds to purchase new ovens, microwaves and a refrigerator for the program.
“This is part of our quest for this school to be better,” Osborn explained, referring to the school year motto, “Be Better.” “Our students and staff can now be better within that space. We can’t provide inferior quality facilities and expect excellence.”
The culinary classroom remodel is just one example of ongoingefforts to better the school facility for students. In the past three years, the school has remodeled its locker rooms and weight room, created a CTE Showcase and a student store, and installed an inspirational mural. The school also has replaced scoreboards for the football, baseball, and softball fields.
The culinary program is popular and plans are to add another class, Osborn said. The room also is used for Spanish classes and for the junior high’s cultural arts classes, which also includes cooking.
Students in culinary arts and food science get a chance to explore different techniques. Students have made jam, baked pies, and done some canning.
“One week they made salsa, before Christmas break they made jerky, and couple weeks ago, they were making cheesecake,” Osborn said. “Sometimes it’s very outside the box, culturally. It’s great for our students to learn those skills. They’re always doing something fun, something different. Marie Kinney is a rock star.”