Soup’s on at CTC

LISBON – Board members at the Columbiana County Career and Technical Center have gotten a sneak peak at what the school’s newly renovated restaurant will be offering starting in February.

Culinary arts instructor J.R. Straley said the students are very excited about opening the restaurant and a coffee shop, too, both of which were part of the latest renovation project at the school. While opening them both will be a challenge, Straley said he believes his group of students are “up to the task.”

In the beginning, the restaurant will be open between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. For their first menu, students created one revolving around the idea of diners, drive-ins and dives. Straley said it has a lot of variety and there will be featured specials.

Besides creating a menu, the restaurant will give the students in the program, about 24 youths, a chance to get the hands-on experience to operate a restaurant.

“That is the goal,” Straley said. “The more education and hands-on experience we can give them here, we can better position them to get jobs later.”

Straley said he currently has several people interested in students currently in the program. He believes in challenging them, splitting them into small teams and giving them a limited amount of time to put together several entries during something he calls the Friday Food Challenge.

Operating the new restaurant will be yet another challenge for the students.

The board was treated to a buffet and were able to see the newly remodeled dining area for themselves. A possible date for the first “quasi” opening is Jan. 31.

In other matters before the board:

– High school Principal Jonathan Ludwig went over some changes to the school’s safety and security plan. After forming a safety team last school year, the group has been involved in several training exercises to help teachers and staff be prepared in the event of a shooter or intruder in the school. One new feature is a new public address system, which allows staff members who know the code to be able to pick up any phone throughout the building and make an announcement about trouble. There will also be some new drills in the near future for students in case of an intruder.

“Local law enforcement has been so supportive, helping us to make a plan,” Ludwig told the board, adding any time they have asked for assistance or training people have been willing to help.

The school currently has about 60 cameras inside and outside the building.

– Visits by sophomores from area districts have began as students begin making decisions about whether to attend the Career Center.

Plans are in place to also offer an agriculture and environmental systems program next year. This will begin preparing students for careers in landscaping and installing turf. The Career Center is partnering with Kent State-Salem, which offers possible degrees in those areas for students to work toward after leaving the CTC.

A sophomore open house, which may also be open for freshmen, is being planned for March 27. Some businesses interested in hiring students from the CTC will also be on hand to answer questions for parents and prospective students.