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Bolivar High School ProStart culinary students work at Citizens Memorial Hospital, prepping the day before Chief Executive Officer Donald J. Babb’s retirement reception.

Appetizers were hot off the plate at Citizens Memorial Hospital for Chief Executive Officer Donald J. Babb’s retirement reception Saturday night, Jan. 4. 

One group of helping hands — students from Bolivar High School’s ProStart Culinary Arts program — were on deck, helping prep food and serving guests through different shifts.

It’s a way to give back to Babb and CMH for their support of BHS’ culinary arts team over the last 10 years, adviser Betty Glasgow said in her cooking classroom, while students tidied up their areas.

“Our ProStart program could not do what it has done without the support that CMH has brought to us,” she said. “A large part of that is attributed to Mr. Babb and his support of our students.”

She said CMH’s Scott Kirchhoff contacted her about the students coming in to work the event. 

“That’s the first time they’ve asked us to come and give back to him,” Glasgow said. “Most of the time, they’ve been giving to us, and I think it’s really good for our kids to realize you need to give back to people who have given to you so much.”

Danielle Alexander — a BHS senior and ProStart member who was also part of the team that took second place in state competition last year — said she had fun at the weekend event. 

“We were the last shift, so we waited around until they needed us to put things together,” Alexander said. 

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BHS students get down to the kitchen business at Citizens Memorial Hospital.

They assembled pieces of bread with meat and topped them with horseradish and onions, Alexander said.  

She said she feels like she learned from the overall experience because she was able to speak with a man from Springfield’s culinary college — but she’s still deciding on whether she’ll be a chef in the future.  

A pair of other students — Dalton Price and Emma Henderson — said they had fun, as well.  

“They had already had everything prepped for us,” Price said.  

Henderson said it was their task to plate the food.  

The shift helped serve the food and inspect the bread for holes and evenness to make sure guests had the same amount, Price said.  

They also helped serve “crab shooters,” which are a crab and avocado-based appetizer, Henderson said.  

Price said his culinary class began working with crab on Wednesday, Jan. 8 — but Henderson can’t work with crab because she’s allergic, she said.  

Henderson said she learned “you have to be relaxed while you’re working.” 

“I thought it was really cool because our kitchen is like their kitchen, almost, so you can kind of see how she’s running it like their kitchen,” Price said, referring to Glasgow.  

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BHS students traverse through the kitchen the day before Babb’s retirement reception. 

Price said he plans to go into the culinary arts in the future, and his experience at Babb’s reception was valuable.  

“It’s a really good work experience, and it really shows you how it’s like to work in a real kitchen,” he said.  

Another pair of students — Caleb Rains and George Wilson — offered their takeaways from the event as they pulled out bags of knives from the BHS culinary kitchen’s cabinet.  

They said they’re both on track to be chefs in their futures. 

Wilson said he helped move food from the kitchen to the reception area, and Rains said he helped serve food, including beef tenderloin sandwiches, bacon-wrapped scallops and shrimp. 

“A lot of it was prep-the-house stuff that we don’t get to do very often,” Wilson said. “So serving guests and that kind of stuff, which was fun.” 

“I didn’t really learn specifically anything,” Rains said. “I practiced things that I learned in the classroom.”  

That’s a sentiment Glasgow echoed.  

“This program gives students an opportunity not only to go into kitchens and learn how to work with other people. It teaches them what a lot of people call ‘soft skills,’ but I like to call them essential skills in the workplace,” Glasgow said. 

Regardless of what field the students will go into, she said they’ll be successful. 

“I think they did an outstanding job,” Glasgow said.

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