Four students from the ProStart Hospitality program at Grandview High School attended the FIS Alpine Ski Championships in Vail earlier this month. But they weren’t there to watch world class skiing, they were there to feed world class athletes. Grandview’s ProStart program was asked to help cater meals for ski teams competing at the championships.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, something I’ll never forget,” said Alexis Mares, a senior at Eaglecrest High School who takes ProStart classes at Grandview.
ProStart is a high school hospitality education program of the Colorado Restaurant Association Education Foundation. It is a two-year foodservice and hospitality management curriculum offered to high school juniors and seniors, and is offered at Grandview and Smoky Hill high schools through the Career and Technical Education department of the Cherry Creek School District. Students from any high school in the district can take ProStart classes, which offer students college credits through Metro State University, and allow them to gain experience through events and caterings, learn from industry mentors and network within the hospitality industry.
At the championships, the ProStart students – Mares and fellow EHS senior Leslie Rendon and GHS seniors Jordan Peterson and Daniel Cho – worked with chef Tom Smiley of Johnson & Wales University to serve the athletes from Albania. They had to prepare and serve nutritious breakfasts and dinners that met each team’s dietary requirements.
“I was really happy and excited, but I was also a little nervous. I didn’t want to mess up,” Daniel Cho said. “It was a cool opportunity to have real-life experience working with a chef and feeding the athletes.”
The students prepared breakfasts and dinners that included fruits and vegetables, European meats and cheeses, grilled chicken and porchetta, an Italian pork roast.
Cho said timing everything perfectly was the most challenging part of the experience. Mares said the best part was getting to meet people from around the world.
Grandview’s ProStart teacher, Audra Cooper (who happens to be Colorado’s 2015 ProStart Teacher of the Year), said the students had to apply for the opportunity to work at the Alpine Championships.
“The students had to have a certain grade point average, they had to submit an essay and be willing to learn and work as a team,” said Cooper.
The students agreed that the experience was incredibly enriching.
“We learned teamwork and communication and developed a bond between all of us,” Mares said.” We feel like family now.”