Real-world experience

Chugiak High has new hospitality, tourism program


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Chugiak High students and staff take advantage of a student-run salad bar during lunch period Thursday, Sept. 26. Students in the school’s new hospitality and tourism academy operated the salad bar all last week.

MIKE NESPER

Moments after the bell rang at 10:22 a.m., students and staff flocked to a salad bar stationed in the hall at Chugiak High on Sept. 26.

At just $2 — no wonder dozens lined up to fill their bowl full of locally grown produce. Just as quickly as the surge formed, the lunch rush was over.

Just like a restaurant.

That’s exactly what the school’s new hospitality and tourism academy wants to teach its students. The program offers a range of classes, including business, customer service and culinary arts.

All of the students in the program collaborated to bring the salad bar to Chugiak all last week.

The project is an example of real-world experience Kathy Vik hopes her students gain from the program.

“We want them to be work ready,” said Vik, Chugiak’s family and consumer science department chair. “It’s trying to teach them to be professional.”

While culinary students were tasked with preparing the meal and restocking the salad bar during the lunch rush, business students were in charge of promotion. That included hanging flyers around school and making announcements to inform the student body about the salad bar.

They also created a punch card that gave a discount to anyone who purchased lunch all five days.

Everyone who worked on the large-scale project gained valuable experience, said business management student Harrison Houston.

“What we’re doing right now can help us in the future,” he said.

Shayna Pospisil is already reaping the benefits. A hostess at Eagle River Ale House, Pospisil said the knowledge she’s gained from the academy helps her at work.

“I can take those customer service skills and apply them to my job,” she said.

For marketing instructor Douglas Wall, there’s nothing better than watching his students take pride in running a successful project.

“It’s a lot of fun to see the kids get engaged in something that’s real,” he said.

Students in the program weren’t the only ones excited about the new lunchtime addition.

As word spread about the salad bar, the line increased every day, Pospisil said.

“We’ve gotten really positive feedback,” she said.

The salad bar was stocked with Alaskan grown produce thanks to a $3,000 grant from the state, Vik said.

The money also helped fund a potato bar, which was put on three days this week.

Vik said $2.2 million from the state will go toward building a commercial kitchen and dining room at Chugiak. Construction is slated to start in spring 2014, she said.

Students in the academy can also earn college credit and restaurant certifications. Vik said all students in the program earn their food handlers card and AlaskaHost certificate.

Students can also become ServSafe certified. High-schoolers typically don’t earn that managerial certificate, Vik said.

“We want our kids to have credentials,” she said.

With everything the hospitality and tourism academy offers, Pospisil said she’ll leave high school better prepared.

“It offers so many opportunities,” she said. “It’s a really great program.”

 

Anyone interested in having Chugiak students cater an event can email Kathy Vik at vik_kathleen@asdk12.org.

 

Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or mike.nesper@alaskastar.com.

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