After school, William Penn Culinary Club gets cooking
Dynasty Emory knows she loves to cook. The William Penn Senior High School junior also knows her culinary skills are limited.
That’s why she and about a dozen other students are staying after school once a week to learn everything they can from Michael Breeland and other volunteers.
On a recent Tuesday, Alan Thoman delivered a lesson on knife safety: Don’t try to catch a falling knife. Always walk with the blade down. Placing a knife in a sink of soapy water is a bad idea.
Thoman, the district’s assistant food service director, ended with a demonstration of culinary uses for different knives. In the background, Breeland kept an eye on a pot of not-yet-boiling water. That day, the students would be making chicken alfredo.
Breeland is a lifelong cook who said the kitchen keeps him connected to his roots. He is also a member of the district’s Board of School Directors.
“I have always cooked for family members and friends and use food as a means of showing love and appreciation,” Breeland said.
Through the Culinary Club, Breeland said he wants students to learn life skills that will help them support their own families. Culinary skills make life less stressful and broaden options, he said.
A dedicated group of students show up each week.
“The students consistently show up as they find a place where they fit in and are connected to a caring community,” Breeland said.
Tatyana Thompson, a junior, said she also loves to cook but was never really taught at home.
“Here, I can learn more things to cook and experience,” she said.
Emory said she knows she could be doing something else after school. But this is a way to try new foods, and she’s learning how she can save money by cooking more at home.
“It’s better for our future,” Emory said.