Almost a decade ago, a new culinary academy opened its doors to Burkburnett High School and Vernon College students. The program has since then grown and students are graduating with certifications that secure them a job post-graduation.

Burkburnett High School senior Daunte Thompson is looking forward to walking across the stage come May and already knows what his next step is.

“Go to college one, get a good degree so I can be able to take care of my mom,” Thompson said.

In preparation for the real world, Thompson is making it his duty to learn essential life skills, that is why he chose to enroll in the Culinary Arts courses offered by the Burkburnett Independent School District and Vernon College’s Culinary Academy.

“I like food and my mom cooks on the base and I just want to learn to cook for myself so whenever I go off to college I know how to cook,” Thompson said.

While he started the program only having knowledge of preparing noodles and cereal, Thompson and his classmates said they can whip up a mean stack of pancakes.

It is this reward that keeps Chef Instructor Erika Colee in the kitchen.

“That makes me very very happy to teach someone to be able to teach themselves and their family,” Colee said. “I love it when they come in and whether they have experience or they don’t, I can teach somebody something.”

There has been a projected 10 percent increase since 2016, in the demand for professionals in the field and Colee can attest to that.

“I get phone calls almost weekly from local restaurants as far away from Oklahoma City and casinos right across the river, they want to hire our graduates,” Colee said.

While Thompson’s goal is not to become a top chef, he aspires to someday use the skills he has attained from this course in his business career in the years to come.

The academy will have an open house on May 30 and everyone is invited to check it out. 

Contact 940-696-8752, Ext. 3213 to RSVP.

For details on Vernon College’s Culinary Academy Continuing Education program, follow this link.