By Tamas Mondovics

BloomingdaleCulinaryUseMG_0677Given a chance to impress a small group of school officials and business representatives, Bloomingdale High School and members of its newly launched culinary arts class received some much-deserved recognition last month during the official opening of the school’s first ever culinary arts program.

Joined by faculty as well as Hillsborough County Public Schools representatives including recently elected District 4 School Board member Melissa Snively, the event featured a ribbon cutting ceremony hosted by the Valrico/Fishhawk Chamber of Commerce.

“Bloomingdale High School is now a member of the chamber and a business partner, which provides support and helps the school as it interacts with the community,” said Valrico/FishHawk Chamber of Commerce President Bridget Jenkins-Wilson. “The ribbon cutting ceremony celebrates new opportunities for the school and the students.”

Of course the ceremony’s main focus was the celebration of the opening of the school’s first culinary arts program as it takes its rightful place among the more than a dozen high schools throughout the county that have made the program a success.

Under the name “Stampede Café” the students will learn about the various aspects of the food industry taught by former DurantBloomingdaleCulinaryMelissa Snively Peggy Voss Bloomingdale Valrico FishHawk Chamber High School culinary arts teacher Peggy Voss, who brings more than three decades of teaching experience to the school including 15 years of teaching the arts.

The culinary arts program is based out of Hillsborough County Public Schools Career and Technical programs and prepares students for a list of employment opportunities in the food service and hospitality industry including the operating a restaurant or catering business.

“There are many career opportunities in the culinary and hospitality industry, the largest employing field in the world,” Voss said. “Upon completing all levels and passing the Food Service Manager’s Certification Exam, the students have the possibility of a successful career in the industry.”

Students in the program earn industry certification with the National ProStart Certificate of Achievement and as a Certified Professional Food Manager from ServSafe.

“I am excited to be able to join the program and have a chance to pursue my passion for the culinary arts while in high school,” said Bloomingdale High School freshmen Katie Urbance. “I have always loved cooking and I am happy to be a part of this program taught by such a great teacher as Mrs. Voss.”

In its current first year, under the expertise and direction of Voss, the program is boasting 128 students in five classes, with which Bloomingdale High School Principal Sue Burkett was quite pleased.

“I am fortunate to have Peggy to start our program for us,” Burkett said. “The opportunity to provide students with post-secondary options that will prepare them for a rewarding future is always an exciting endeavor. Not every student is a traditional college kid, and this allows them an opportunity to pursue school and a career at the same time.”

The event closed with students proudly serving up a breakfast selection of their fruit of labor. For more information about Bloomingdale High School, visit

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