Bring on the inspiration! Whether planning a holiday celebration or an event, any meal is possible for the Hidalgo ISD’s J.C. Kelly Elementary student chefs.
J.C. Kelly Elementary integrated a cooking club as part of their after-school activities. Students are embracing and learning so much from their cooking class.
“Mrs. Gutierrez’s talent and passion for cooking inspired the cooking club,” said educator and cooking club sponsor, Carolina Tamez. “She has a special love for cooking and that’s something she hopes to instill in the students.”
Food is one of the basic needs of life. Therefore, it was important for fifth grader teachers; Alejandra Gutierrez, Carolina Tamez and Janet Lozano to incorporate the cooking club to introduce students to various culinary skills and help them to also explore multiple ingredients and recipes.
Aside from having fun, cooking has also taught the students communication skills, critical thinking, and collaboration.
“I joined the cooking club because I wanted to learn how to cook while hanging out with my friends,” said fifth grader, Camila Silva. “I also like that cooking makes you think a lot because you always need to know what ingredient goes where.”
Additionally, cooking empowers and educates students beyond the cooking basic skills. Teaching the students about cooking at a young age, it will not only help them become aware of their capability in the kitchen, but also teach them responsibility and how to be self-sufficient through hands-on learning.
“The cooking club offers primary experiences and ideas in areas associated with food making, preparation and presentations,” explained Tamez. “Students have also acquired basic knife skills, food decorating, and basic cooking methods.”
During a district-wide principals’ meeting, the students cooked and catered to all the principals including superintendent of schools. The menu consisted of grilled quesadillas known as sincronizadas on flour tortillas filled with beans, cheese and chicken among other toppings, a side of guacamole and rice with a side salad, served with delicious beverages to compliment the sincronizadas, a very berry medley tea and aguas frescas. To top it off, the cooking club concluded with a finger liking and scrumptious mostachón, a Mexican meringue pie topped with cream cheese filling and fresh, sliced strawberries, and a creamy, perfectly baked basque cheesecake.
The cooking club promotes a lifetime skill that supports other subjects such as science and math along with language, cognitive development, and fine motor skills. It also inspires the students to serve their parents, by being helpful and extremely productive at home.
“I enjoy helping my parents in the kitchen,” said fifth grader, Adrian Sosa. “Sometimes I ask them if I can cut and cook the onions or tomatoes for the rice or the burgers we make at home.”
Dora Proa, J.C. Kelly Elementary principal encouraged the cooking club to stay active throughout the year by participating in events where the students can experience the activities connected with food preparation.
“Our principal strongly recommends that the cooking club stays active throughout the year by being involved in the events and holiday celebrations to help the students gain that experience and skill,” explained Lozano.
“We enjoy seeing the kids walk into our classroom excited, motivated, and ready to learn.”