An Evans High School classroom that once was filled with sewing machines, will soon be filled with pots and pans.
Norvell industrial kitchen equipment representative Terry Burt (from left), Evans High School culinary arts instructor Laotha Carswell and Principal Don Brigdon talk over plans for the new commercial-grade kitchen equipment being installed at the school.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Workers are now installing an industrial kitchen at Evans High School, the second in the county.
"It goes back to the recommendations of the Vocational Study Committee in 2000 to convert our food labs and our home-ec kitchens into commercial food facilities," said Michael Canady, director of career and technology education. "We started with Harlem, and now we are doing Evans. I feel this is part of fulfilling the recommendations and getting these things done."
The kitchen represents a new direction for the system's vocational program - a move away from home economics to teach students more marketable skills. With the renovation and equipment, the project will cost about $250,000, said the school system's Comptroller Pat Sullivan.
The kitchen will include equipment that would typically be found in a restaurant, such as a 22-foot hood, cook tops, combination ovens, friers, steamers and a walk-in freezer.
"It's supposed to have everything they would need to learn to go into a professional kitchen," said Laotha Carswell, Evans High's ProStart instructor. "When they go into restaurants, they will know how to use all of the equipment, and (the employers) won't have take the time to stop and teach them how to use it. They will already know the safety procedures and the proper procedures to use the equipment,"
The kitchen will support the school's ProStart professional foods program.
Harlem High School also offers the program and got its professional kitchen last year. It's paid off. After winning at the regional and state level, three of the school's students will be competing in a national cooking competition in July. Greenbrier High also teaches the ProStart curriculum, but does not have a commercial-grade kitchen.
Along with the industrial kitchen, there will also be a 150-seat dining room for community and school functions. Evans High has about 125 students taking nutritional wellness and professional food classes, and Carswell said she believes the industrial kitchen will increase enrollment in the program. This is the fifth year the school has offered ProStart.
"This is like the icing on the cake," Carswell said.
About 50 of her students are now completing internships at local restaurants. Those interested in ProStart certification take ProStart I, ProStart II, serve 400 hours as an intern, then take the certification test.
ProStart-certified students can earn scholarships to Georgia Southern University, the Atlanta Art Institute and Johnson & Wales in Charlotte, N.C.
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