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Second annual Feast with Friends a success

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published April 6, 2015

 South Lake 10th-grader Holly Salome helps her brother, Peter, an eighth-grader at Kennedy, choose pasta.

South Lake 10th-grader Holly Salome helps her brother, Peter, an eighth-grader at Kennedy, choose pasta.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske


ST. CLAIR SHORES — Donning chef’s hats and stepping into the kitchen, local students made their own meals and learned social skills on a recent field trip.

But this community-based instruction trip for special needs students at Kennedy Middle School was different than most, in that they were learning from, and dining with, students at another school.

South Lake High School’s culinary arts program hosted its second Feast with Friends on March 30, serving lunch to special needs students from Kennedy.

“It was such a rewarding experience for my students and myself that we couldn’t wait to do it again,” said chef Darrel Shepherd, the culinary arts instructor at South Lake. “The kitchen is a great place for us (and) all students to have success.”

There are 59 students in Shepherd’s two levels of culinary arts classes. Twenty of those students participated in this year’s Feast with Friends, helping 21 students from the mildly cognitively impaired classes at Kennedy.

The South Lake students each paired up with a student from Kennedy to prepare a salad, pasta with their choice of sauce, and then frost their own cupcake for dessert. Shepherd said several of his students that participated in the event in 2014 asked to come back to help again.

“It was just an eye opener,” said 12th-grader Jessica McClinton, explaining that while the students have different abilities, it helped her to realize the range of human experiences. And, she said, “it was fun.”

Twelfth-grader Marcia McIntyre agreed.

“I like how the kids are just open. They have their different ways,” she said. “They just make you happy.”

Shepherd said the Kennedy students are some of the most enthusiastic kids in the kitchen he’s ever seen.

Cara Burnett, one of the two teachers — with Alison Bushaw — of the mildly cognitively impaired students who came to the event, said it was a great experience for her students.

“We go to a lot of restaurants with them to teach politeness and manners and rules, so this is perfect,” Burnett said.

She said her students loved the lunch the first time they made the trip to South Lake and were even more excited this year to be making their own desserts.

The event was conceived by the culinary arts program’s paraprofessional, Marsha Salome, since her son is a student in the mildly cognitively impaired program at Kennedy. This year, however, her daughter is a student in the culinary arts program at South Lake, so the siblings were able to be paired together for the event.

“I thought it was a great experience for all of them,” said Holly Salome, who is in 10th-grade. “I’m hoping they really get to see the individual types of personality” in the special needs students, she said of her high school classmates.

To have a career in the restaurant industry, Holly Salome said, her classmates will need to learn to work with and serve people of all different abilities.

Marsha Salome said the culinary arts program appreciates the opportunity to reach out to the community. She had seen another school in Texas do something similar a year ago, and that’s what gave her the idea. And since the special needs students participate in community-based instruction to work on their social skills and behavior anyway, she thought this would be a great fit.

“A lot of our students in our school don’t get contact with people who have special needs,” she said, so it was a good opportunity for them to learn from the experience, as well.