Culinary Arts Program Inspires Students to Follow Their Dreams

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By Jessica Gertler

The Culinary Arts Program at Charles Henderson High School allows students to spend half of their day in the kitchen behind a stove. Students say its encouraged them to follow their dreams of becoming a renowned chef.

Charles Henderson High School senior Reggie Bryant's childhood dream is coming true.

"Where I came from they didn't have culinary arts at all," he says.

But he's been behind the stove for three years now, and come May, he'll be off to a culinary institute.

"Then one day open my own business," Bryant says. "I want it to be like a bar and grill."

Several years ago, Charles Henderson High School opened a Culinary Arts Program that teaches students about the restaurant industry and how to cook just about anything.

Instructor and Chef Paula Hinson says the program has become more than successful, and for the first time, four seniors have received scholarships. But she says it's more than that.

"Once they acquire a technique, you can tell it's like a light bulb comes on," she says. "Like I can do this. I can do it. So I think it gives them self-confidence."

"Everybody can make grits, but not everybody can make a certain type of grits," says senior Laquesha Tyner.

She will be bringing her famous grits to Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte, North Carolina where she's received a full-ride to their culinary program.

"If I didn't take this program, I wouldn't have thought about going," she says. "But I'm happy I did."

Students say this class has changed them.

"It kept me out of trouble. Definitely," says Bryant.

And taught them how to feel special.

"I get to show how come I'm unique, because I can cook," says Tyner.

Hinson says any student can be a part of the program their sophomore year, but after a strict selection process, only fifteen students can continue on each year.

Next Tuesday night beginning at 3:30, the Culinary Arts Program will be hosting a pancake supper at the school. The money raised will go towards food, supplies and competitions.



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