Jemison High School showcases culinary arts facility

Students at Jemison High School cut the ribbon to welcome its recently built culinary arts facility. (Photo by Anthony Richards / Advertiser)

Students at Jemison High School cut the ribbon to welcome its recently built culinary arts facility. (Photo by Anthony Richards / Advertiser)

Jemison High School and the Chilton County Chamber of Commerce officially opened the recently built culinary arts facility and classroom on Dec. 10.

According to Chilton County Superintendent of Education Tommy Glasscock, the facility has been functioning since the school year began, but this was the official opening.

“With Chilton County being centrally located, we believe that it (facility) is going to be a model for the rest of the state,” Glasscock said. “With Jemison being the second largest high school and the largest growth area, we felt that this would be the best place to make the investment.”

Raynette Ellison is in her fourth year as the culinary arts teacher at JHS. Throughout her time at the school, she has been involved with the three-year process of making the idea a reality.

“I’ve never worked at a school like this, where they promote the kids,” Ellison said. “It’s the most wonderful place to work.”

She hopes that this state-of-art facility, which was added on to the old home economics classroom, will offer students opportunities that they may have otherwise not known about.

The facility features a fully functioning kitchen that will allow for a variety of dishes to be created, from deserts to the main course.

“We provide ServSafe certification which allows them [students] to have an advantage when it comes to getting a job in food service,” Ellison said. “It helps them through college and once they get out in the workforce.”

ServSafe certification is offered by the National Restaurant Association and ensures proper training in the field of food safety.

She has seen an embrace of the program over the years and believes that the new facility will continue to enhance the interest. She currently has about 30 students in her hospitality and tourism classes, while her Culinary I and II courses range from 20 to 25 students.

These classes provide students with a glimpse into the food service and preparation industry. The long-term goal is that many graduates aspire for a food service career.

“There have been quite a few that have changed their career plans,” Ellison said. “Once they got in here, they realized that they loved it. There are so many more that can’t wait to get into this class.”

According to Glasscock, the Alabama Legislature passed a $50 million bond issue to be used to enhance the career tech programs throughout the state.

“We started looking around the state and saw that we no longer had home economics programs,” Glasscock said. “It was going more toward culinary [arts], and we thought it was a great opportunity.”

The culinary arts program is an example of how Jemison and Chilton County are looking to leave its imprint on future generations. New and innovative ideas are not only welcome, but are adopted.

“The food service is one of the most growing services,” Ellison said. “This is hands-on, and it’s something new every day. [Students] are proud once they get to see their final creation.”

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