OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea – Students from the Osan Middle High School culinary arts class baked 903 cookies for the 20th annual Operation Sweet Treat at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 11, 2018.
While culinary arts classes have previously been offered to students attending other schools in the Pacific, this is the first time the class has been offered at OMHS.
“All of us are looking to better our culinary arts mindset because going to college we need to know how to cook and provide for ourselves,” said Jaden Wright, an OMHS 12th-grader. “Some of us even hope to become chefs someday.”
The curriculum is organized into different chapters that guide students through the process of how food is grown, harvested, prepared and consumed.
“The course is called Pro Start and it’s from the National Restaurant Association,” said Militza Garcia, OMHS culinary arts teacher. “The program begins with the professionalism and the communication that happens in a kitchen as well as soft skills that the students can take into any work field.”
The students have already completed five chapters where they focused on safety, sanitation, proper use of equipment and more, but Garcia said her class has been looking forward to baking for Operation Sweet Treat since the beginning of the school year.
The annual cookie drive known as Operation Sweet Treat is led by members of the Osan Spouses’ Club who bake, collect, organize and deliver more than 50,000 cookies and treats to unaccompanied service members across the Korean Peninsula.
“We all came together, planned out what cookies we wanted to make, and then made dough, and then we baked,” said Dillon Taylor, an OMHS 10th-grader. “Some of us stayed late, some of us came in outside of school hours until we baked all the cookies.”
Many of the students who attend OMHS have experienced holidays while their parents were away from home and understand the impact projects like Operation Sweet Treat can have on service members.
“The holiday season to me is not always about what you want, but it’s about what other people need,” said Wright. “It’s all about being able to provide for each other and have each other’s back for all of us affiliated with the military.”
This year’s Operation Sweet Treat chairperson, Kerry Oberg, said the project would not have been possible without help from the culinary arts class, United Service Organization, Girl and Boy Scouts, Civil Air Patrol, Homeschool Cohort, Officer’s Club staff, Commissary, American Legion, and hundreds of other individual volunteers.