Oak Creek-Franklin Joint School District


The culinary program at Oak Creek High School stands out for its comprehensive approach to preparing students for success in the culinary and hospitality industries. Going beyond cooking skills, the program focuses on instilling essential life skills that are transferable to any career path. Under the guidance of the dedicated instructors Charles Kagan and Rachael Henson, students not only learn technical aspects such as measurements and knife skills but also develop crucial professional skills vital for success in today's workforce.

One key strength of the program is the emphasis on communication and leadership skills. Through collaborative teamwork in the kitchen and direct interaction with customers at Knights’ Café, students hone their ability to communicate and lead effectively. These skills, invaluable in any profession, are nurtured through hands-on experience managing inventory, leading teams, and navigating busy service periods.

The kitchen updates from the 2018 referendum have significantly enhanced the program's effectiveness. “Having industry-grade equipment gives our students true commercial experience,” shares Henson. “We now have a space that matches our curriculum,” Kagan adds. 

Teachers have observed a transformation in students' attitudes and dedication, noting that the updated facilities have inspired a greater sense of professionalism among students.  “Students are motivated, and they work hard like they are at a job and practice their craft like chefs in a kitchen,” Kagan explains. 

OCHS Senior Preston Brzezinski has always had a passion for cooking and plans to pursue a career in Culinary Arts after graduation. “When I’m in class, the people around me challenge me to cook better than I think I can.” The Culinary Arts course allows students the opportunity to earn transcripted Gateway College credit. 

Additionally, the culinary program fosters an entrepreneurial spirit among students enrolled in the Knights’ Café course. Here, students gain firsthand exposure to various aspects of the hospitality business, including budgeting, marketing, customer service, and quality control. Such experiential learning not only enriches students' understanding of the industry but also empowers them to explore their own entrepreneurial aspirations, laying the groundwork for future success.

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