Coronado wins state ProStart for second time in 3 years

       The culinary classroom at Coronado High School is different from others at the school. Rows of stoves and sinks line the walls and, with students at the pans and ovens, cooking aromas waft into the air.

Coronado High teacher Leona Lindvall joins her state champion ProStart team members (from left), back row: Kayla Hafer, Austin Hilty, Natalie Muasau, Megan Jeffrey and Judy Santero; middle row: Kenny Londono, Jordan Sveen and Emily Grantz; and front row: Corey Hoff, Mike Harris.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The sight is not as impressive as at some newer schools, Family & Consumer Science teacher Leona Lindvall pointed out. These have restaurant-style set-ups with the gas ovens that are commonly used in the industry.
       Yet somehow Coronado's students have risen to the top of the state in a food industry-supported discipline called ProStart, which combines cooking and food- service management skills. In March, for the second time in three years, Lindvall's students scored more points than any other high school at the state competition, separately nabbing first place in management and seventh in culinary. The triumph gives Coronado's management team the honor of representing the state at the national competition April 23-27 in San Diego, Calif. (funded by the Colorado Restaurant Association's Education Foundation).
       The management team members are Emily Grantz, Megan Jeffrey, Judy Santero, Jordan Sveen and alternate Kenny Londono. The culinary team consisted of Kayla Hafer, Austin Hilty, Corey Hoff and Natalie Muasau.
       Additionally, Lindvall can boast of winners in the separate Family, Career & Community Leaders of America (FCCLA)) state competition this month. Hafer, Hilty, Jeffrey and Jessica Aikens each came back with prizes.
       At the state ProStart event, on the culinary side, students had to prepare a menu in front of judges. For management, in addition to a question-answer barrage, the team was assigned problems that could arise - such as a staple in a salad or an inebriated customer - and given brief amounts of time to solve them.
       ProStart is a one-year program that can be maximized into two. “For students to give up four semesters of their high school time, that says something,” Lindvall observed. One advantage with ProStart is its close ties to the food-service industry. However, Lindvall does not advise students to jump into the business right out of high school, suggesting they go for a two-year college degree, then follow that up with a four-year business degree.
       For the annual state competition, only eight students (and two alternates) are selected for the teams; nevertheless, the effort becomes “a class project,” Lindvall said. “Everyone has to learn the same information. When teams are picked, all the students help out. That's why they're so proud, because they're all part of it.”
       Asked for the secret of her ProStart success, Lindvall laughed that “one student told me I nag a lot.” But more seriously, the 14-year Coronado instructor said, “My expectations are high for them. They know I like and respect them, but I push them to be better. If they slough off, they hear from me. I know their very best may not be a 10, but if we're both happy with how they did, then I think they're successful.”

Westside Pioneer article