To the editor,

We appreciate your coverage of our Seaside High School Culinary team competition at Pro Start Nationals in Minneapolis earlier this month.

Our participation in the Pro Start National Competition is really a story about our local professional community and our communities as a whole gathering to support students. The pro culinary program at Seaside High School exists because the professional community came together to create the facility. We have a well-equipped kitchen and professionals from the community that continue to give their time to teach the program and coach the team.

Special thanks to Will Leroux, John Newman, Josh Archibald and Abby Hines for their time and effort instructing us in culinary arts. And thanks to Martin Hospitality for the myriad ways in which they support the culinary program. This program runs on the good grace of restaurant suppliers and other professionals in the community who hire our class or provide us with the supplies we need for our projects.

Competing in the state and national competitions was stressful and amazing. We gained poise, leadership and teamwork skills, culinary skills and a better understanding of the opportunities within the culinary profession. And we learned that hard work and dedication pay off. As a result, each of us plans to continue working in the profession this summer, and one is pursuing further schooling in culinary arts following graduation in June.

At the national competition we discovered many more aspects to the competition that demanded even greater attention than we had given them. We felt great about our work there and also found ourselves talking about aspects and issues we would do differently. Now we are talking and thinking often of how we will change our entry in the competition for next year.

One of the biggest things we learned is how fortunate we are to be in such a generous and supportive community. People we don’t even know gave support in so many ways to allow us to participate in the national competition.

It has been eye-opening to realize that people we interact with casually around town may be the very people who contributed to send us on our trip. Even people and businesses from other parts of the state supported us because of the work of the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association. And Wendy Popkin with the association was super. It is gratifying and humbling to receive strong support from so many people.

Celina Nicolazzi

Garret Rogers

Porter Johnson

Adam Hutchinson

Ian Kimbrough

Seaside High School Culinary Arts team

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