Change is the spice of life

Novalea Verno, Editor

Rows of desks once filled with students chatting and laughing has turned into lone islands of isolation set in eerie silence. Curriculums that used to be jam-packed with group projects and hands-on experiments have become littered with worksheets and Crash Course videos. Many sacrifices have been made this year to keep students safe from COVID-19. The culinary department is one of those departments that has made many changes to accommodate the worries of parents, students and health department guidelines.

Teaching teenagers the basics of cooking requires a ton of hands-on activities and constant movement. This way of teaching is now a big “no-no” in quarantined life. The culinary teachers aimed to keep the parts of the class that previous students loved while weeding out projects that would put students at risk.

“The culinary department as a whole is doing everything we can to remain safe and sanitized,” said Kara Emig, one of the high school culinary teachers.

To accommodate large class sizes, each class has split into two groups. Each group gets a turn in the kitchen on different days to ensure students are social distancing. While working with food, students must wear gloves and all learners are required to wear masks at all times like every other student in the district.

“The teachers are doing their best with the limited materials they have…” said Marc DiPiano, a junior currently taking the Regional and International Cooking class.

The addition of online students has made for an interesting challenge for a class dependent on firsthand experience. Online students are expected to complete the required labs at home.

“It is important for them to get the same experience as the brick-and-mortar learners,” said Amanda Fisher, another one of the culinary teachers.

Seeing that not all online students have the necessary ingredients just lying around, the department has created kits full of needed items. These kits can be picked up at the school during scheduled times. The teachers have also created videos highlighting and explaining certain techniques that may be more challenging.

“Many [online] students have fun making a video of them cooking for a lab submission,” said Emig.

Despite all of these changes, the culinary class still remains a very popular class. Returning students, while noticing the obvious changes, still find themselves having fun. The culinary department promises students and families that they are working hard to keep up with new guidelines in order to provide students with a safe and fun learning environment.

Students make tamale pies while wearing gloves.
Photo by Amanda Fisher