JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology on the Westside found out this week the National Career Academy Coalition has dubbed two of its academies Model Academies.
That's the highest level of designation an academy can earn during the accreditation process.
Frank H. Peterson already had four of its programs at model status. Now its culinary arts program has joined the fray.
Students prepare anything from basic meals to gourmet desserts.
It's not just learning the ingredients, but in one food science class, students learn the science behind cooking.
"It's alfredo sauce with pasta," culinary student Alyssa Cain said. "The butter, it thickens it so it makes it more saucy, and what goes on with the noodles is the water bonding with them is what makes them soft."
The teacher grades the students based on several factors. She treats them as if it were a restaurant atmosphere.
"If we get into arguments, that downs our grade," Cain said. "If the food doesn't look appealing, that downs our grade."
Susan Dougherty is the teacher behind the skills.
"A lot of them are very green, a lot of them have never cooked before, so it's been very interesting," she said. "I teach them different techniques: mixing, measuring, cutting, cooking methods, nutrition and wellness."
And yes, they do have an in-school restaurant.
"They have to make the starches, the potatoes, they have to make the vegetables, they come up with all these recipes," culinary teacher Tom Perkins said.
Students don't just learn to cook but also to clean up, do dishes and laundry -- the skills they would need if they worked in a restaurant.
Perkins said nine of his students graduating this year are going on to culinary school, and because of his class they already have a head start.
"Kids can come out of here with 12-14 credits to go to college, so that's the main thing here," he said.
Another program soaring above normal standards that is also now a Model Academy is the Aviation Academy.
"My understanding is that we overperfomed during their visit, and they were very, very happy, and we are very fortunate," said Gilbert Gregg, of the academy.
In the Aviation Academy, students have the chance to learn how to fly by using flight simulators.
Gregg prepares for jobs in air traffic control, flying professionally and aviation maintence. One of the projects students have been working on this year is repairing a plane.
"it's not much right now, but for us it's a lot throughout the year," junior Oleg Moses said.
Gregg has high hopes the program will continue to grow.
"In terms of the process of where we were four years ago to where we are now, I'm saying we're 5,000 at a 10,000-foot runway," Gregg said. "We still have some more things, but we're making good progress."
Frank H. Peterson also offers programs to their students in agriscience, automotive, communications, cosmetology and early childhood.