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LYNN — When Liana Kim started her first after-school culinary class at Lynn Vocational Technical Institute, she was unsure of what she wanted to do with her life. Just 10 weeks later she has applied and been accepted to two culinary schools.
The Technical After School program, which gives students at Lynn English High School, Lynn Classical High School, and Fecteau-Leary Junior-Senior High School a chance to learn a trade, was rolled out for the first time this semester at Lynn Tech with two class options.
“I had never been in a commercial kitchen before this and now I’m seriously considering going to a culinary college,” said Kim. “A lot of kids don’t get the opportunity to go to the tech and learn a trade.”
Kim, who was considering a career in either the medical or early education fields, said she has experience cooking for her four younger siblings, but was excited by the opportunity to work in and learn the dynamics of a commercial kitchen.
More than two dozen students completed the 10-week after-school program, which offered two shops in its first semester. Eighteen out of 40 applicants were accepted for the culinary shop and 16 took a Photoshop course. Not all finished the program, but those who did walked away with certifications in either Adobe Photoshop or ServSafe and Allergy certifications, said guidance counselor Brian O’Connell.
“You can’t become an electrician or a chef in 10 weeks, but you can get enough skills to move forward,” he said. “There’s huge opportunity here at Lynn Tech that other kids from Lynn aren’t getting, so we’re trying to figure out how we can offer that up.”
The program was offered to students for free and classes were 3½ hours long on Monday and Wednesday. Dinner twice a week and transportation from their high school was provided.
Grade point average was not a factor when accepting applicants, said O’Connell, but attendance rates were. It was important to ensure that the students accepted into the program would be present for all classes given the expedited nature of the courses, he said.
“You have all made your lives better,” Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham told students as they received their certificates on Wednesday night. “I hope we’ll expand this program.”
The second round of classes will begin in February with three course offerings that have not yet been determined, said O’Connell.