Wor-Wic chefs host impressive buffet

Developmentally disabled students who have been studying culinary arts while enrolled in Wor-Wic Community College’s Tri-County Life-Centered Education Transition Program recently prepared an impressive buffet at Wor-Wic.

Selections in the five-course meal – including macaroni and cheese with cauliflower, black beans, stir-fried vegetables, vegetables with sausage, spinach dip, salad, fresh fruit arranged artfully on spears and strawberry shortcake — were enjoyed by about 80 guests at an open house to celebrate the culmination of culinary arts training.

Chef Bonnie Aronson and Dr. Ray Hoy, president of Wor-Wic, presented gift bags and certificates to students, some who passed the national ServSafe exam, which catches the eye of  employers who are hiring.

Aronson told students they would find gifts in each little bag including a food thermometer and gold chocolate coin.

“I would love to give each one of you a hug and a kiss but you probably wouldn’t like that, so …” she said, reaching into one of the bags and producing a Hershey’s Kiss in a bright foil wrapper.

As each student’s name was called, the audience applauded and they received certificates, hugs from Aronson and handshakes from Hoy as family members cheered and snapped photographs.

ServSafe scores were announced, with the highest score being an impressive 97.5.

“They have been looking forward to this for a long time. They have been telling me how many people in their families are coming,” said a smiling Jeremy Wolfer, Wicomico County special education teacher who instructs at Wor-Wic during culinary classes.

The students are enrolled in Wor-Wic’s Tri-County Life-Centered Education Transition Program, under the supervision of Kerry Cleaver, director of Continuing Education and Workforce Development.

They must be 18 to 21 and still in high school.

“This program is in its sixth or seventh year. I love seeing these students in the age-appropriate educational setting. There’s a sense of pride. This will help them be more successful,” Wolfer said.

Half the students have jobs by the time they finish, fulfilling one of the goals of the program.

Involved in preparing lunch were students Jordan, 21, of Wicomico County and 19-year-old Candy, who lives in Worcester County.

“I learned many kitchen skills and a lot about money and current news topics,” Candy said.

“I learned knife sills, like not getting hurt. I made the macaroni and cheese with cauliflower. I did most of the cutting up vegetables with help,” she said, adding she has a job at The Atlantic Hotel in Berlin, where she washes dishes.

Jordan learned safety with food and helped by preparing vegetables and chopping onions. He works at Home Depot part time and is hoping to become a full-time employee there.

“I have always been interested in cooking. I know how to make chocolate chip cookies,” Candy said, smiling.

The highlight of the event was Hoy’s announcement that the National Council of Instructional Administrators, based at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, selected Wor-Wic as winner of its 2019 Exemplary Initiative competition.

The Council is a professional organization and affiliate council in the American Association of Community Colleges serving as the national voice for professionals involved in instructional administration.

The Council congratulated Wor-Wic on its “Tri-County Transitional Youth Program for its “innovative, effective and successful approach to fulfilling the instructional mission of community colleges.”

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