Every week, a group of students at Washngton Jr. High School, put on aprons and get to cooking.
The club started during COVID to give students something new and exciting to do. However, due to COVID guidelines, the club had to be offered virtually. Once the guidelines were lifted the school hosted the club in the school's kitchen and saw its enrollment numbers rise.
"Numbers improved once the word got around about making lasagna, cookies, brownies and being able to share your creation with friends and families," said Larry Harris, Lights on for Learning Coordinator at Washington Jr. High.
The afterschool club is taught by local Chef K.C Ross, or known as Chef Keys.
"I wanted to be the representation for the students that I didn't see when I was in school. I feel half of the battle of being successful is seeing someone that looks like you make it. In order for you to feel that you can be great you must feel inspired in some way. I love teaching them because they give me so much in return," said Chef Keys.
Students have learned about knife handling, the importance of clean and sanitary workspaces, microwave and oven-safe dishes, and so much more. They've put those tools to use in the kitchen. They've made everything from Ratatouille to Chocolate Almond Crossisants to Brussel Sprout White pizza.
At the start of the club, most of the students were beginners but now they can whip up delicious meals like a pro.
"I have seen them blossom into themselves. The students who started off very timid have become more vocal in what they want to learn and assisting others in the classroom. After the students were in class their confidence rose which made them want to explore more difficult things to create," said Chef Keys.
Chef Keys says the cooking club is about so much more than making creative dishes.
"These students learn how to problem solve and how to work in teams to get to reach a common goal Everyone loves to eat."
Not only is the club teaching students a very necessary life skill but also introduces them to a different career.
"We hope students gain interest in the Culinary Arts and Hospitality work field. There are people who get to travel, experience great events, and meet awesome people who have jobs in the culinary arts and hospitality profession," said Harris.