Cornell high school students Leiana Rucker (left) and Lily Brown (right) prep food during a Parkway Career and Technology Center culinary course.
By Carrie Moniot
Surf and turf is not a meal you’d expect high schoolers to prepare. That is unless they’re the chefs at Parkway West Culinary Arts Restaurant.
You see, this isn’t your typical restaurant and these aren’t your typical chefs. Everything on the menu is prepared by culinary arts students at Parkway West Career and Technology Center. They do all the cooking under the supervision of Chef Shawn Culp.
Cornell school directors moved locations of their Feb. 7 workshop meeting and were treated to a gourmet dinner at the North Fayette center.
“It gives us the opportunity to show what you’re paying for,” Executive Director Darby Copeland told Cornell board members.
Copeland cited the “Pathways to Prosperity” study done by Harvard University on how to meet the challenge of preparing young Americans for the 21st Century.
According to the study, only 33% of jobs require a four-year degree. Meantime, more than 44 million Americans are saddled with student loan debt, according to StudentLoanHero.com.
“There are some great opportunities here for your kids. Your students get to flourish,” said Fred McGivern, Parkway’s assistant principal.
“Parkway West CTC is the vocational school where we send our students to pursue trades. Some of our board members have never been to Parkway, so we thought it would be a good idea to host a meeting out there so they can see where we send some of our high school students.
They have very impressive programming and we have never had a meeting out there before. I thought it would be a nice experience for our board members,” according to Cornell Superintendent Aaron Thomas.
Forty-six Cornell students currently attend classes at Parkway West CTC.
In addition to Cornell, there are 11 other participating schools including Carlynton, Chartiers Valley, Keystone Oaks, Montour, Moon Area, Mt. Lebanon, Quaker Valley, South Fayette, Sto-Rox, Upper St. Clair and West Allegheny. They each appoint representatives to a joint governing board and pass yearly operating budgets for the center.
At its Feb. 17 meeting, the Cornell school directors approved spending $200,309 for its portion of the 2022/2023 Parkway West CTC operating budget, which is based on the number of students Cornell sends there. The board also approved another $13,233 toward the jointure budget, which is based on the size of each partner school district.
With 1,085 students and 50 staff members, Parkway West CTC is the largest career and technology center in Allegheny County.
The vocational system in Allegheny County was developed in 1961 by Alfred Beattie, superintendent of Allegheny County Schools.
At its peak in the early 1980s, Parkway West Area Vocational Technical School, as it was called, offered 27 programs to some 1,600 students.
Culinary arts is just one of 15 career majors currently offered at Parkway.
Others include auto body repair, automotive technology, carpentry, cosmetology, cyber security & network technology, diesel technology, electrical systems technology, graphic arts & production technology, healthcare occupations technology, HVAC/R, public safety technology, SMARTT certifications in CPR and first aid, veterinary assistant technology and welding technology.
A number of programs at Parkway West CTC are open to the public.
“We do state inspections and emissions here,” said Assistant Director/Principal Brock Snedeker.
The public is also welcome at the cosmetology clinic, doggie daycare, and the Parkway West Culinary Arts Restaurant, serving lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7101 Steubenville Pike, North Fayette.
Parkway West CTC will be holding its spring open house event on March 7 from 5 to 7 p.m. The public is invited to attend to learn more about the school’s majors including the newly added 16th class entitled power motorsports.