Teacher Gina Pixler teaches Career Technical Education classes at Chester Junior-Senior High School to prepare seventh- through 12th-grade students with the work skills they’ll need once they become independent adults outside school.
Students have the opportunity to learn the art and science of food preparation as part of their elective curriculum through Chester High’s co-ed culinary program.
The program was built from the ground up with funds from a portion of a three-year Career Technical Education Incentive Grant that was received by the Plumas Unified School District from the California Department of Education). Such funds are awarded to improve upon and to create various school programs on California high school campuses.
The culinary class received the bulk of the funds allotted to Chester High, Pixler said, with the classroom remodeled with new features like cabinetry, counter tops, ovens/stoves and a large commercial refrigerator, among other improvements,
Also included in the budget was money for various cooking utensils
This spring, the school will add home economics for junior high school eighth-grade students, who will be working in the kitchen learning to make a variety of dishes and also trying their hands at sewing.
As part of the process to learn cooking skills, senior high students are taught to correctly handle utensils, including instruction on knife safety and cutting skills, and all students learn to handle food safely to avoid contamination.
Students learn how to collaborate by researching recipes, and creating various entrées and side dishes.
Should students decide to enter the food industry after they graduate, the class gives them the opportunity to take a state-sponsored exam so they’re certified to work in restaurants if they so choose.
For students who are not interested in a career in the food industry, the skills they develop in class are still highly useful in the home kitchen.
With a small food budget to work with, Pixler is asking individuals in the community to consider donating an assortment of ingredients by contacting the school to arrange a drop off.
Pixler noted that as a result of its popularity, more and more students are attending the culinary arts program at Chester High School to learn to cook for their own enjoyment, as well as to prepare for living on their own as young adults,