Gateway Students Hungry to Learn Culinary Skills in ProStart Program

By APS Communication Intern Giselle De Haro

During the holiday season, savory dishes and sweet treats are on the minds of many, but Gateway High School’s ProStart students focus on culinary creations year round. Dr. Dackri Davis, former Gateway principal, partnered with ProStart Colorado to offer the two-year elective course to her upperclassmen. Soon after, a once vacant art room was transformed into a spacious kitchen that is now home to unique hands-on culinary learning experiences.

Gateway ProStart Director Sarah Fields enjoys teaching students about the hospitality industry and culinary workforce through the National Restaurant Association’s curriculum. In addition to preparing meals graded on flavor and presentation, juniors gain skills in food safety, customer service, job interviewing and more. During senior year, students focus on plating, menu building and marketing.

In the kitchen lab, students follow recipes provided by Fields and apply cooking techniques they are mastering. In the “Restaurant Wars” class project, students open mock restaurants, create their own menus and serve items like dumplings that are not only tasty, but uniform. Lab groups are evaluated on multiple components including teamwork, organization and overall product.

“Our class has become a community,” said Gateway Senior Steven Hernandez. “I have made friends with people I never talked to before.”

Outside of the classroom, students collaborate to provide meals for local events. Recently, Gateway’s ProStart students catered for more than 1,000 guests at the Denver Food and Wine Festival--after having only one week to prepare!

“I knew we could do it,” Hernandez said. “Everybody carried their own weight and we got it done.”

But, these students are no strangers to the sweet smell of success. Last year, the Gateway ProStart group competed in the three-day Family Career and Community Leaders of America conference where Hernandez and his team took home second place for their culinary skills.

After graduation, many ProStart students plan to pursue careers in the culinary field. APS strives to provide equitable
access to learning opportunities that support students in reaching their full potential. We thank Aurora voters who
approved our $300 million bond measure, which makes programs like ProStart possible.