Students crushed to lose Foods

Mr. Jean has taught at ARHS for over a decade.Photo: Lee Larcheveque

ARHS students were crushed by the announcement of all Foods and Culinary Arts classes being cut from the high school for good, due to budget cuts.

The Culinary programs offered to students were one of the few remaining hands-on electives, with former offerings like Auto, Wood Shop, and Clothing courses all defunct. Those programs ended when the teachers who taught them retired over the last two decades.

“Our job is to provide more opportunities to enrich more kids,” said Mr. Jackson. “[These cuts are] evidence that we were not always able to do that.”

Without the option to take Culinary classes at ARHS, some students who may be considering a future in the culinary workforce may think about switching to a vocational school that offers classes that can provide students with food service certifications.

In Culinary Arts classes taught by David Jean, students worked towards real life achievements. “Students had the opportunity to receive ServSafe, ProStart, and Food Handler certifications,” said Mr. Jean. “These accomplishments are recognized and sponsored by the National Restaurant Association.”

Mr. Jean has worked at ARHS for 12 years and is sad to go. “It’s been a privilege to work here in this field with students and also the staff,” he said. “I’m thankful for the time that I had doing it.”

“Whether you go to college or not,” said Mr. Jean, “[Culinary] teaches you skills you can actually use in the marketplace. It’s basic training. A good introduction to life.”

Foods classes have been offered for decades, said Mr. Jean, but the Culinary program began in 2001. More recently, the offerings have shrunk. “We used to offer many more sections of Foods than we do now. It’s been a gradual contraction of the offerings for students. Now it’s completely cut off,” said Mr. Jean.

The Foods classes offered more than a warm room to bake and eat snacks.

The space allowed students to plan for and prepare delicious meals while working in a calm space, which they described as an escape from the heavily academic nature of their days. Some students found their future careers there, too.

Senior Tatiana Hernandez plans on entering the culinary field after high school. “Without [Foods] I wouldn’t have that experience,” she said. “It showed me what I want to study in college. [Mr. Jean] also made me realize that there’s more to it just than cooking in the kitchen. And he’s really nice, really funny and sarcastic.“

“I literally did not know how to cook before I got here,” said senior Amina Torres, a student in Foods 2.  “I learned how to cook so many things that I wouldn’t have been able to without this class.”

Bradley Sherwood also saw its value. “I think its an important class to take so you can learn how to cook, “ he said.

Other students were also passionate in their opinions about the loss of the classes. “Students are gonna be missing out,” said Josh GerberDolan, who added that he was saddened and angered by the cut.  Richard McIntire added that it was “the best class ever.”

Staff will miss Mr. Jean’s presence and warm smile, too. And they said they greatly enjoyed  the gourmet lunches he offered to teachers for $5 on a monthly basis, including paninis, soups, gourmet fries, and salads.

Mr. Jean also often cooked fresh baked goods for faculty and staff meeting days. “I’ll miss him. And his cookies and scones will be sorely missed too,” said technology teacher Lee Larcheveque.