Sen. Biaggi, Dr. Hamilton Announce $1 Million in State Capital Funding for The Mount Vernon High School Culinary Program
State Senator Alessandra Biaggi and Mount Vernon City School District Superintendent Dr. Kenneth R. Hamilton announced the allocation of $1 million in capital funding from the 2019-2020 budget cycle for the revitalization of the culinary lab and program at The Mount Vernon High School.
“As you can see our culinary food lab is in desperate need of some cosmetic work, as well as some infrastructure work,” The Mount Vernon High School Principal Ronald Gonzalez said, standing inside the existing culinary food lab, which will be completely renovated with all new equipment. “We are here today to announce a very, very generous donation being made by Senator Biaggi’s office in the sum of $1 million to help us bring this culinary lab up to standard.”
The announcement, made on Thursday, February 6th, also included Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard; City Council President Lisa Copeland; Board of Education Vice President Darcy Miller; Board Trustee Melissa Muñoz Patterson; Crystal Collins, Assistant to the County Executive for Advocacy, Community Liaison and Faith Based Partnership Initiatives; The Mount Vernon High School Principal Ronald Gonzalez; students in the program.
“This is going to give students, undoubtedly, who are perhaps skilled in this area already and don’t know, the ability to cultivate their skills,” Sen. Biaggi said. “To be able to go into the world and think of themselves as a chef or to even just go into their own homes and think of themselves as a chef. The importance of food is central to our lives and it can be central in the opportunities that we provide for our children across this entire city.”
“We know that there are multiple pathways beyond high school to success,” Dr. Hamilton said. “The pathway to college is for some. But the district has been committed to identifying multiple pathways so that our students who are not necessarily going to go to college can get high-paying, well-skilled jobs and be successful. And we have to be mindful that education in the world around us has changed so dramatically, and Mount Vernon is on the cusp of really being cutting-edge leaders into making that happen.”
Board Vice President Miller reflected on a tour she had taken of the high school when she first became a trustee nearly six years ago. The tour included the culinary lab. “It was just devastating (to see). … Our children were seeing that. They were getting used to the fact that things were unkempt and unfixed and messy and abandoned. So, I can’t tell you how much this is not just about culinary. This is a metaphor for what we’re doing in Mount Vernon and what we’re doing for our children.”
Gonzalez said the district is starting a “seed-to-table” initiative, where students in the culinary arts program will cook food that the school’s environmental sciences program grows at the school.
“We are all looking forward to this space,” Gonzalez said. “We are all looking forward to getting into the kitchen area to show some cooking and the skills behind the theory.”