NORWALK − Lowe’s is awarding Norwalk High School with $24,600 after culinary arts students and their teacher applied for a grant to upgrade classrooms and fund community service projects.
Already ranked among the top 24 SkillsUSA chapters in the country, Lowe’s agreed to sponsor upgrades to Norwalk High School’s culinary arts program, which is inspiring students to not only embrace cooking, but to also encouraging the use of food as a community builder.
“Lowe’s is committed to strengthening the communities where we live and work,” said James Frison, director of community relations at Lowe’s. “We’re excited to partner with SkillsUSA and Norwalk High School to provide opportunities for students to apply their skills while giving back to their community.”
Tracy Horton teaches culinary arts at Norwalk High and serves as faculty advisor of the campus chapter of Skills USA, which is a non-profit partnership between schools and businesses to fund career and technical education.
Horton said the money will provide new appliances for her classroom as students await a brand new commercial kitchen that is currently in the works.
“We’re going to spend some money this summer buying new equipment – a washer, dryer, refrigeration equipment and a three-compartment sink,” she said. “Once the new classroom is built, all of this will go there.”
The award comes after Horton’s students worked closely with Lowe’s last year, using $2,000 in previous grant money to construct a mobile catering cart.
“We went back to Lowe’s on Veteran’s Day last year and fed veterans outside the store,” said Horton. “That partnership helped us with this grant, which will go towards more community service projects.”
A culinary teacher at Norwalk for nine years, Horton now has 130 students who take her classes each year. She believes maintaining programs like this is crucial to set students up for possible post-school careers.
“It’s hard because career and technical education takes a lot of money so sometimes it’s one of the first programs to get cut,” Horton said. “But it’s so important because our students need hands-on application to what they’re learning.”
Sixteen-year-old Shianne Horn was tentative about joining culinary arts, but she says the program is now the highlight of her day.
“With this money, we can get a bigger kitchen for us and I think that’ll inspire more kids to join the class,” she said. “Cooking is so fun – why wouldn’t they want to join?”
Lowe’s is expected to present the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District with the $24,600 grant later this month.