Culinary arts program gets go sign in Amory

By Chris Wilson/Monroe Journal

AMORY – A new vocational course will be added at Amory High School beginning next year for students wishing to go into food service careers.
At a recent Amory School Board meeting, Vocational Director Andy Cantrell updated the board of education on the program’s status.
This is the first new vocational course for the Amory Vocational Center in 15 years, Cantrell said, which is “very exciting.”
There are 35 culinary arts programs across the state, with most in the southern part of the state. Amory’s former auto mechanics classroom will be converted into a culinary arts kitchen with a dining area that will seat up to 100.
The program is a joint venture between the Office of Vocational Education and Workforce Development and the Amory School District.
The Mississippi Department of Education has committed to funding the teacher salary for the course. The local district is responsible for purchasing the equipment for it, which could cost about $90,000 which will come from Capital Improvement Bonds. Cantrell said a committee has looked into what kind of equipment would be needed and has settled on getting moderately priced items. Cantrell will advertise for bids this spring.
Cantrell said they will look for an instructor who earned a four-year degree and has work experience in the food industry and experience with kids. He said interviewing for the position will come later, but there has been interest in it already.
When the program is operational, Cantrell said they will be able to feed teachers, provide meals for civic clubs and receptions and other school events. The class may also open its dining room to the public on occasion.
The class will be for students in grades 10 through 12. It’s a two-year program meeting two hours per day. It can accommodate about 30 students. Cantrell said there already are 45 high school students with interest in the program.
Superintendent Gearl Loden said the students will graduate with a marketable skill. He said they also will be good candidates for continuing their education in the culinary arts program that is offered at Mississippi University for Women.
Cantrell said the plan is to have the program in place for the 2010-2011 school year. Students who complete the course can take an exam to be nationally certified with ServSafe, a dining industry training program.
“Under the current economic conditions, we feel extremely fortunate to be adding a new program in our center,” Cantrell said.