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Andrea Clemett, Picket Fence Media intern 

The 1964 traditional home economics kitchen at San Clemente High School has been transformed into a commercial-grade facility.

The high school celebrated the opening on Oct. 18 of a remodeled culinary arts lab that will facilitate four educational programs for students.

The College and Career Advantage program launched two culinary classes this fall in the bell schedule and another after-school class is open to high school students in Capistrano Unified School District and Laguna Beach. The courses prepare students in a commercial-style environment that will encompass food preparation, sous chef roles, knife skills, work in an assembly line and hospitality. Students will also utilize a traditional home-style kitchen with two stations where they can “butter” their basic cooking skills designed for independent living.

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Principal of San Clemente High School Chris Carter said the courses filled quickly with students eager to sign up for the opportunity.

Currently, the courses are classified as elective credits, and Carter said he hopes students will be able to transfer those credits to Saddleback College as a feeder program in the future.

“Students can go through the program and be ready for jobs immediately outside of high school,” Carter said. “They can continue to articulate at a higher level through Saddleback College as well. Our goal is to build a career technical pathway in the area of culinary arts.”

The high school welcomed two teachers who worked in the industry and bring this background to the students. They possess a Career Technical Education Credential that requires industry experience. The teachers will guide students in catering events, serving the staff and expanding to evening dinner events.

The kitchen will be used by the STEPS program that meets the needs of special education students. The program focuses on teaching and helping those students acquire functional and independent skills once they leave the school setting, with possible career options in hospitality or in culinary arts.

“We are excited (because) this facility will service all of our students,” Carter said. “By bringing back the food program it gives our kids a wide range of avenues to reach their post-secondary goals.”

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