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Foundation grant helps culinary team compete at state level

Two teams from Pittsburg High School earned state honors and scholarships at their first competition, and helping them get there was a teacher grant from the USD 250 Foundation that paid for equipment and uniforms. 

The PHS Culinary program, directed by Chef Anthony Fischer, had a solid showing at the Kansas ProStart Invitational, a premier high school competition sponsored by the National Restaurant Association that focuses on restaurant management and the culinary arts.

Four students — Austina Hawkins, Andrew Deierling, Landen Williams, and Savana Wisdom — competed on the management team to write an entire business plan for a food truck. It included the interior layout and the pricing of every ingredient. They placed sixth in the state. 

Four students — Madison Day, Jillian Seeley, Kaleb Lee, and Victoria Snyder — competed on the culinary team and had just one hour to prepare a multi-course meal without recipe cards. They placed seventh in the state and earned second place honors in the Best Pork Dish category with their Pork Picada.

Each student who competed earned a $500 scholarship that, should they choose, they may bank for future years to stack with others they might win.

The students were honored at a ceremony at PHS when they returned; each student’s contribution was highlighted, and Day, Seeley, and Williams each were awarded a Completion cord and a ServSafe Manager cord certifying they passed a 100-question exam.

“We’re extremely proud of them and they can wear these cords at graduation as a symbol of what they’ve accomplished,” Fischer said.

Fischer also presented Foundation President Dawn McNay and Ron Marrone, a Foundation board member and co-owner of Marrone’s institutional food products, with embossed charcuterie boards in recognition of their support. 

“They now have learned a life skill that will carry them wherever they go,” Marrone said.

Completion of the Culinary program at PHS allows students to work in the restaurant and hospitality industry straight out of high school, making them more employable, he noted.

The Culinary program has grown under Fischer’s guidance from seven students five years ago to 210 students enrolled for next year.

The teacher grant Fischer received was one of 26 awarded to teachers this year by the USD 250 Foundation to expand learning opportunities for students through the purchase of enrichment activities and additional resources.

“The Foundation is made of alumni and community members, and this is our favorite part — seeing the fruits of our labor in the way funds benefit students,” McNay said.

Read more about this year's winners.


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