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CK, Klahowya cook up 'AP food science' class

Think choosing a career in the restaurant business means you’re doomed to earn minimum wage your whole life?

Think again.

These days, mid-level hotel and restaurant managers earn between $18,000 and $100,000 a year, according to the National Restaurant Association, and there is a virtually a guarantee of available work — the restaurant and food service industry employs more people than any other private sector industry.

Concern about meeting the demand for skilled, professional employees in the growing industry has prompted restauranteurs to partner with high schools. Out of this relationship was born ProStart, a two-year high school program that prepares students to work in the food industry.

In Kitsap County, Klahowya Secondary School and Central Kitsap High School have begun two-year ProStart classes. The curriculm, set by the National Restaurant Association, is rigorous.

“I call it an AP food science, it really goes a step beyond,” said Mary Ann Reichley, the ProStart teacher at Central Kitsap High School.

Students take a food handlers’ permit exam and study workplace safety and customer service in the first months. Then they study cullinary skills, business math, receiving and inventory and a host of other restaurant skills.

“They learn that your hands don’t touch anything and that you have to wash your hands about 100 times a day,” said Peggy Templeton, a ProStart teacher at Klahowya.

Students at Klahowya also can receive up to 12 college credits, which are accepted at Washington State University, Central Washinton University and most community colleges, to name a few. To earn 12 credits, students must get a B grade or better, complete a 204-hour paid restaurant internship and take the class for two years. Six credits are awarded for completing one year.

Templeton said Klahowya is seeking to partner with local restuarants in order to place interns. Eagle’s Nest Catering and Kitsap Golf and Country Club currently participate.

The program is attractive to students who enjoy working with food and people, Reichley said. Some are not interested in the four-year college route, but others are.

Last year the National Restaurant Association offered $100,000 in scholarships which went unclaimed.

This year Reichley and Templeton are making sure their students are aware of the scholarship opportunities, they said.

Rhianna Hutchinson, a Klahowya senior, is working toward an internship with the Kitsap Golf and Country Club.

“I’m thinking I want to be a manager of a hotel or restaurant, or a food business,” Hutchinson said.

She said the skills she has learned in the class will be useful in other areas of her life, even if she doesn’t end up going into the business.

“I think it’s important in giving you experience with food for your home life. You learn about bateria, cross-contamination and you’re more aware when you go into restaurant,” she said.

One of the interesting aspects of ProStart are the unique training oportunities offered to educators.

Last year Templeton won a $2,000 grant from the National Restaurant Association.

“I went through an extensive training — I worked in the DoubleTree Hotel in the kitchen,” Templeton said.

She might do another two-week internship this summer, possibly on a cruise ship.

For more information, call Templeton at 308-2160 or the KSS Career and Technical Education Department 698-5435.

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