In mid-April, a creative, staff-led culminating assignment ended with full bellies and high marks.
The idea, sparked by Tina Noel, RCCDSB Experiential Learning Coordinator, was to work with a community partner to provide Bishop Smith Catholic High School students in Jill Plazek’s Grade 10, 11 and 12 Hospitality and Tourism classes (some of whom are also in the Specialist High Skills Major [SHSM] Hospitality and Tourism program) with a ‘Reach Ahead’ hands-on learning experience.
East Side Mario’s, a longstanding RCCDSB community partner, was approached and quickly jumped on board with the new initiative says Plazek.
East Side Mario’s staff planned and prepared meal kits to feed families of four, increasing the difficulty of the dish as the Grade level increased. Grade 10 students made Fettuccini Alfredo, Grade 11 prepared Sausage and Pepper Penne and Grade 12 made Chicken Tetrazzini. All meal packages came with all the ingredients to make the dish, along with garlic bread to be heated and a Caesar salad to toss together.
“A huge thank you to Todd and Adam from East Side Mario’s for helping to creatively come up with how to do this,” acknowledges Noel.
Students received online instruction from Plazek through Google Classroom. “The ingredients were included, but students still had to chop the vegetables and put the meal together,” notes Plazek.
Initially the meal was planned to go to 87 Hospitality and Tourism students and 9 students in the Special Education program, but the the initiative was expanded to include some RCCDSB families in need. Noel and Plazek along with Safe Schools Coordinator Sandy Brannan, Jason Dedo, Chaplain, St. Joseph High School, Tammy Peplinski, School and Attendance Counsellor, Kevin deRuiter and Sarah Bell, RCCDSB Social Workers and Rebecca Paulsen, Mental Health and Wellness Lead worked together to create a list and all families were contacted and addresses confirmed.
Delivery of the meals was also a team effort. Noel, Plazek and Brannan delivered the meal kits to Deep River/Rolphton area, Westmeath/Lapasse/Beachburg area and Barry’s Bay/Combermere/Foymount and Chapeau areas respectively. Additionally two East Side Mario’s drivers made deliveries to the Pembroke and Petawawa families, and a delivery company from Renfrew helped with the 14 Renfrew-area deliveries.
In total, 125 meals were delivered across our region.
As a follow-up, Plazek asked students to answer some questions about their experience.
“I received nothing but positive feedback from everyone. A lot of students are asking if we are able to do this again. Everyone was engaged in the learning process and sent me pictures, slideshows and videos of themselves preparing and serving the meal to their families,” notes Plazek.
Some student comments included: “I had fun making the East Side Mario’s meal for my family and they enjoyed eating it.”, “Thank you very much for the supper this evening, it was amazing.” and “It was really good and fun to make.”
“I’m proud of the creativity and volunteerism displayed by RCCDSB staff,” says Jaimie Perry, RCCDSB Director of Education. “Carrying on education during this unprecedented time is very challenging. Staff stepped up with an innovative project to give students hands-on experience and helped those in need at the same time—an inspiring demonstration of our Catholic values and our
Board’s vision to ‘make a difference as faith-filled community builders’.”