School Spotlight: Wayzata High School
The taste of delicious food is something everyone can appreciate. But properly cooking delicious food is a skill that needs to be taught. Much to the joy of some Wayzata High School students, Laurie Sonstegard has taken on that role.
“Yesterday we made pancakes,” said Sonstegard, Wayzata High School’s family consumer science teacher. “Tomorrow we’re making nachos using the oven, browning ground beef. For some kids. This is the first time they’ve ever cracked an egg, or the first time they’ve used a liquid measuring cup for measuring.”
A Culinary Class Based on Inclusion
Yet this isn’t just a normal culinary course. It’s called unified arts, a new class that pairs general education students with special education students such as Joey Sueker, a Wayzata junior.
“I appreciate it a lot,” Sueker said. “It’s a lot of fun. And it’s helping everybody that’s taking this class.”
The class is helping the students, not just because they’re learning the basics of what to do in the kitchen, but because the class helps send a message of inclusion.
“The students really enjoy working together as a team,” Sonstegard said. “We hear lots of laughter, we have lots of smiles. Lots of positive energy. And it doesn’t feel like it’s two different groups of kids. It feels like it’s one group of kids working together as a team.”
In this class, teamwork, makes the dream work.
“Working in groups, working in the kitchen, learning how to run a griddle and all that — it’s a great class to be in,” Sueker said. “I’m enjoying it.”
It certainly helps that the students get to eat the food they spend the whole class period preparing. Most importantly though, the lessons they learn in this class will stick with them well into adulthood.
“Best class ever!” Sueker exclaimed.
Wayzata staff members say that other school districts have reached out to learn more details about the program, in case they want to implement something similar in their districts.