NORWALK, Conn. (AP) — The number of students interested in Norwalk High School's Culinary Pathway program is growing, and as of Monday, there is a new, state-of-the-art lab to accommodate interested students.
"It became clear that (based on) the amount of kids who want to go into the culinary pathway, we couldn't facilitate them in our single lab, which precipitated building out the second lab," Jimi Napoli, a member of Norwalk High School's School Governance Council, said at a Monday ribbon-cutting celebrating the completion of the new lab.
Napoli, who, with the SGC, helped to advocate for and oversee the work, was joined by Mayor Harry Rilling, Common Council members Tom Livingston and Greg Burnett, Principal Reginald Roberts and staff and students.
"We're overwhelmed," said Margaret Dolan, who leads the culinary arts program alongside Ted White. "We actually came in and said, is this really our space? It's wonderful — the technology behind it."
Among the features of the new space are a demonstration station, which uses a camera, pointed at a stove and cutting station at the front of the class, to broadcast the work of White and Dolan on a mounted, big-screen TV.
In the new lab, expanded work stations will allow three to four students to share the space instead of previously when many had to just watch. The six stations give students access to a gas range, flat-top cooking surface, a steamer, a grill, individual KitchenAid mixers and food processors. The lab also features a pizza oven and walk-in cooler. According to White, roughly 300 students have enrolled in the program.
"This is state-of-the-art. This is an opportunity for young people who may have a passion about the culinary arts," Rilling said. "This is a great step forward."
The culinary program's expansion is part of a larger initiative by Superintendent of Schools Steven J. Adamowski and the Board of Education to establish a variety of career "pathways," which focus students' coursework based on their interests and, in some cases, earns them a certification once completed.
"The idea is that students won't just take random electives," Roberts said. "They'll take electives that are related and it will lead to something."
In the future, White said, the goal is to enable students who have completed the program to earn their ServSafe certifications, which could then help them to get an industry job.
Designs for the lab were approved in May and construction began in June, originally with the intention of finishing by the start of the year. However, issues discovered during construction delayed the project.
"We hit some snags," Napoli said. "The goal was to be finished by the time school started. We're eight weeks late but we made it."
Information from: The Hour, http://www.thehour.com