By Suzanne Ulbrich
Lejeune High School culinary students have been elbow deep in cookie dough.
Batches of cookies, too many to count, have been mixed and baked in the ProStart classrooms all week. Teachers Shirley Bryan and Jane Varalli are overseeing 103 culinary students in the baking and assembling of hundreds of goodie bags filled with the homemade treats to pass out in the community.
“Every child had to submit a recipe,” said Bryan, Friday. “We’ve made no less than 30 varieties of regular cookies and no less than 20 varieties of diabetic cookies.”
Students will deliver the cookies this coming week to the patients and families at Fisher House aboard Camp Lejeune and to clients at Liberty Commons and Carebridge Assisted Living facilities, she said. Other recipients include the USO and the Women’s Shelter
Culinary students at Lejeune have been doing the cookie drop for the last five years, Bryan said.
“Our goal is to teach the kids that they need to give back to the community,” she said. “Since we are a junior restaurant here we want to teach students how the restaurants give to the community.”
The ProStart program is designed to prepare students who have an interest in food service work. When they complete the course they get a certificate of achievement and a short resume that explains they have been trained in various areas, said Bryan, who has taught ProStart at Lejeune for six years. Lejeune’s cookie initiative came to the attention of the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation, which supports the ProStart program nationwide. Liking the idea, they chose to promote a special “Holiday Cookie” project for ProStart programs nationally.
The foundation has invited schools to come up with the recipes, bake the cookies and identify a local charity they can deliver holiday cookies to during this coming week, she said.
All of the ingredients for the cookies baked at Lejeune have come from donors, including parents, the commissary and the cafeteria, Bryan said.
Every student involved will have the opportunity to deliver their treats.
This will be the second year Kyri Rose, a senior and second-year ProStart student, has participated in the cookie project, and he is looking forward to the delivery.
“It’s great to give to the elderly — it feels good,” he said. “It shows you care about them and it just feels good to give back to the community.”
Second year ProStart students Melinda Maldonado, a senior, and Tiphanie Mason, a junior, were also involved last year.
“They seem really happy that we do it, especially the nursing homes,” Tiphanie said.
Maldonado laughed and agreed.
“They were so happy, some of them started racing to the door as soon as they saw us,” she said.
"Holidays, birthdays & anniversaries have been celebrated with tears and smiles with people who truly understand what the other person is experiencing."
- Kamryn Jaroszewski