**NNDSB Note: This article was written by Emma Dupuis, a grade 12 student at F.J. McElligott Secondary School**
By Emma Dupuis
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, grade 8 students from all four local school boards had the opportunity to grow their knowledge in the culinary field through a synchronous ‘Chef for a Day’ event, held by the School College Work Initiative (SCWI) and the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP). Students learning via the at-home learning platform along with students studying in-school were invited to participate in the culinary event.
During the first portion of the day, each student was provided a backpack filled with ingredients to make their own personal batch of nut-free energy bites. All students received instructions through a live virtual lesson from a Canadore College chef and each student brought their goodies home to enjoy.
FJ students thoroughly enjoyed the culinary event. Bradlee Bernard, was one of the excited participants who shared his experience. “My favourite part about the day was learning how to cook the protein bites. I thought it was super cool that we got to learn new recipes that I can cook at home. Overall, the day was very educational.”
The second portion of the day involved students building and designing their own gingerbread house. This was also demonstrated through a live virtual lesson facilitated by the chef.
“I really enjoyed decorating these houses. It was great to be able to bring treats home for my family,” stated participant Jorja Sparks.
Echoing fellow FJ classmates, Logan Morin shared his experience with the hands-on learning. “I had lots of fun today. I really enjoyed learning how to make the protein bites and building the gingerbread house.” He added, “I thought it was cool learning new skills that I will use in the future.”
These interactive, hands-on lessons allowed students to see what it’s like to be in a culinary program and provided students with a window into the world of skilled trades.
“I loved getting to make the gingerbread houses. This was a great experience that I’m glad I got to participate in,” exclaimed Carlie Adams.
Following the experiential learning opportunity that saw 19 FJ students embrace new skills, discover potential career avenues, and bring home some tasty treats, FJ intermediate French Immersion teacher Nicholas Walters reflects on the event.
“Overall, the ‘Chef for a Day’ event was an excellent opportunity for FJ students to learn about the possible avenues of their future and specifically, receive essential culinary skills that will help build a greater understanding of the importance of cooking.”
Henry Wunsch summed up the learning opportunity that he and his classmates experienced perfectly. “I am really happy that there are still opportunities given to us despite the COVID pandemic and I will remember these skills moving forward.”