Logansport High School students worked diligently Wednesday morning, dressed in chef jackets and hats, calling out to one another as they determined each of their responsibilities, chopping vegetables, sliding dishes of steaming macaroni and cheese out of the oven, and spearing fresh strawberries and pieces of pineapple and bananas for fruit kebabs.
Outside, more students staffed grills, flipped burgers and ensured barbecued ribs were cooked just right.
It’s another day of class for KaAnn Lord and her advanced culinary arts students, who operate the Berrylicious Cafe, which three years ago started providing lunches for faculty members one day a week. The cafe served its final meal Wednesday during an end-of-year cookout, as Lord’s position will not be replaced after she retires this year.
There are nine students in Lord’s advanced culinary arts class, which meets every day for two hours. The Berrylicious Cafe is right across the hall from their classroom, where every Wednesday teachers could pay $4.50 to $5 for a meal cooked by the students. Overlooking the tables and chairs in the room is original art created by students as well.
Lord said for the last ten to 15 years, the class has also offered a catering service. Previously-made frozen casseroles are a popular selling item, she said.
Cory Cripe, a science teacher at the high school, said he would visit the cafe every Wednesday.
“Every single week it’s wonderful,” he said as he ate with his colleagues at the cookout. “There’s a variety of food, a variety of flavors and the kids get to show off.”
Lord also teaches the prerequisite classes for her advanced culinary arts class, which include nutritional wellness, advanced foods and nutrition and introduction to culinary arts. She will be retiring this year after 39 years of teaching, 32 of which she’s spent at Logansport High School.
John Kowalski, a junior, has taken all of these prerequisites and is currently enrolled in Lord’s advanced culinary arts class. He said he plans to pursue a career in the culinary industry after high school.
“It’s good hands-on experience,” he said, adding that he’ll miss the cafe’s presence next year.
Demonstrations, labs and some bookwork make up the brunt of Lord’s classes, she said.
“My classes are kind of free,” she said. “We’re up and doing stuff, we’re busy. The kids enjoy that.”
Lord said she plans to spend her retirement traveling, camping, snowmobiling and continuing her hobby of showing quarter horses.
English teacher Tammy Minks said she is going to miss the cafe next year. Sitting with Minks at the cookout was speech and English teacher Jessica Kranz, who agreed.
“I wish someone would step up and take it over,” Kranz said. “It’s such a great asset. The kids love it.”
Ica Vail, a senior, is another of Lord’s students. She said she would like to study culinary arts in college and hopes to make it as a chef in Paris one day.
“I’ve learned a lot more than what I used to know,” she said of her experience with the class.
After nearly four decades as an educator, Lord described her retirement as bittersweet.
“I’ll miss the kids, I’ll miss the teachers,” she said — adding with a laugh that she won’t miss all of the grocery shopping.
Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or firstname.lastname@example.org.