Thursday, April 27, 2017

Another Last

Appetizer: Sweet Ahi Tuna.

Tonight I attended the annual CTE Dinner and Committee Meeting for something like the umpteenth year in a row. It's one of those things I really will miss after retirement. CTE stands for Career and Technical Education (what we used to call "vocational education" in the olden days). 

One requirement for the many grants and federal funding sources that keep these programs rolling is that they invite key people from the community to this dinner to learn more about our programs and their accomplishments, and then to provide feedback. As the special education department chair at the high school from 1995 to 2015, I was always invited to these yearly dinners to sign each CTE department's paperwork as a representative for special needs populations.

I stepped down as department chair two years ago, and I now spend more than half my day teaching regular freshman and sophomore English classes, yet the invitations to these dinner meetings have continued. The relationships we develop over the years continue even after our circumstances change. When our CTE administrator joined us at our table after speaking to the crowd, I reminded her that this would be my final CTE dinner. However, she firmly asserted that she would continue to invite me in coming years. I guess we'll see whether this actually was my last time...

Main Course: Flank Steak in a butter sauce, Risotto,
and Fire-Roasted Vegetables in a sweet sauce.

One of the best things about these committee meetings is the fact that the dinner is prepared and served by our culinary arts students. This year, as third place winners of the Arizona Restaurant Association's ProStart Invitational, the students served up their winning menu. During the competition, the 5- member teams had 60 minutes to prepare a 3-course meal using only two butane burners, with no access to electricity or running water. They were evaluated on knife skills, safety and sanitation, team skills, taste, and presentation.

As you can see from these pictures, they came up with some amazing creations! Of course, for tonight's dinner they had all the modern conveniences at their disposal.

And for Dessert: Fresh Berries with Grand Marnier Cream.

After I'd signed all the paperwork and said my good-byes, I walked out with Jim Rice (cabinetry teacher, behind-the-wheel trainer, and football coach). He's been at Blue Ridge almost as long as I have, and he hopes to be able to retire in a few more years. As we walked down the hall from the dining room--which is on the opposite side of campus from the building where my classroom is located--he commented, "Just think, this may be the last time you walk down this hall." 

That kind of caught me by surprise. This really is happening. Soon the daily walks through these halls will be a thing of the past. Very soon. Am I ready? You bet I am! But the memories will endure and I'm grateful for that.

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