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10th grade chef program receives MASSP Star of Innovation Award at school board meeting

Sean Ellertson
St. James Plaindealer

At Monday's school board meeting, the 10th grade chef's program at St. James High School was awarded with the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals Star of Innovation Award. 

"It says a lot about the leadership the commitment to education in St. James by your staff, by your community, and your school board," said Dave Adney with the MASSP.

Middle School/High School Principal Karla Beck donated the $250 award to the Student Voice group started by Abby Grove, which takes recommendations from students about what they want in the school. 

"Other schools are jealous of this when they hear about it," said Beck of the chef's program.

The program was started four years ago by health teacher Steve Chapin alongside Grove, and Taher Foods, the company that provides school meals to St. James Public Schools.

"First of all, we have an amazing food service director and an amazing food service staff," said Chapin. "They are a huge part of this process because they didn't have to take this on. The second piece is the idea behind the program is to give kids ownership in the selection of what's cooked in our school cafeteria."

With the help of Taher, the students also learn about nutrition guidelines from professionals in the field.

When students craft meals, they must take into account nutrition guides such as serving size and portion control.

"It ties beautifully into our 10th-grade health classes and nutritional curriculum," said Chapin.

"Without our collaboration, it wouldn't happen," said Grove. "It's just so fun to see the kids excited about school lunch, sometimes that's not the case."

Last year, the group used some home recipes of Hispanic parents to include other ethnic foods in their recipes. Parents and grandparents even came into the school to help with the preparation of the food.

The board approved a resolution to accept gifts for PPE equipment. Smithfield Foods donated 2,000 face shields, 52 gallons of hand sanitizer, 200 4 oz. hand sanitizer bottles, and 50 folding desks/chairs. Superfair Foods donated 200 plastic bags. Watonwan County and Downs Food Group donated 1,400 fabric masks, 1,300 surgical masks, one N95 mask, and 40 R95 masks. St. James Rotary donated $585 for the Community Education summer recreation program. 

Other items:

Approve the Employee Handbook for 2020-2021

Kathy Linn leave of absence for the month of September.

Jody Schwanke leave of absence for the 2020-2021 school year. 

- Heidi Spitzner leave of absence for the 2020-2021 school year.  

- Certify the proposed levy payable 2021 for the maximum

- Adopt resolution for a fund transfer for fiscal year 2020 that meets MN Laws 2020, Chapter 116/House File 4415 Article 3 Section 8

Approve a fund transfer for $44,584.46 for fiscal year 2020 that does not interfere with the equitable delivery of distance learning or social distancing models.

- Approve second read of Policy 504 - Student dress and appearance, a new policy, with adjusted language as highlighted

- Approve second read of Policy 513- Student promotion, retention, and program design, a new policy

Approve second read of Policy 522 - Title IX Sex Nondiscrimination Policy, grievance procedure, and process, due to substantive and legal reference changes

- Approve adding Comfrey to Girl’s Hockey Cooperative with Windom, Mountain Lake, Jackson County Central, & Heron Lake-Okabena High Schools