Cary-Grove High School students are exploring career options in the culinary industry through a new learning kitchen that debuted this school year.
Crystal Lake High School District 155 received a $240,000 state grant to build the kitchen with state-of-the-art equipment that meets current industry standards.
"We're lucky to have this opportunity," Cary-Grove senior McKenna Brennan said. "It's the one class we look forward to every day and it's awesome to get in here and cook, and have fun with other people in our class."
Students can take a variety of courses, including culinary arts I and II, advanced culinary, foods, and nutrition and wellness. Classes focus on nutrition and food preparation, including food service and meal management.
This school year, 275 students at Cary-Grove are enrolled in culinary classes.
"It's a great space for cooking and gatherings, but we also use this classroom as a wellness room," said Courtney McKnight, Cary-Grove culinary teacher. "We move all of the tables and we've done yoga and meditation. We've become a family in here and I'm so thankful for what we do."
District 155 also renovated its learning kitchen at Crystal Lake Central and Prairie Ridge high schools this past summer. During the 2017-18 school year, the district added a culinary kitchen at Crystal Lake South High School with professional, restaurant-grade food preparation and cooking equipment. Students at Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake Central, and Prairie Ridge also can attend Crystal Lake South to take advanced courses and receive certificates.