Kensington Culinary Arts sees bold expansion

: Principal James Williams, left, greets Martin Sanchez as students go to health class. — PHOTO/ABDUL R. SULAYAMAN/TRIBUNE CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER

Six years ago, there was only one high school for Kensington. Due to a large student population, Kensington divided into four campuses — Kensington Creative and Performing Arts, Business and Finance, Urban Education and Culinary Arts.

At Kensington Culinary Arts (KCA), some students aren’t cooking, but some are measuring up to new standards. Now, more health and science related classes are offered to students.

“We have developed different programs to reflect the health sciences, which we’re very proud of,” Principal James Williams said.

Now, students can chose between the dental program and health related technologies — which includes studies of anatomy, physiology and epidemiology.

“It’s an opportunity we never got before. It’s not in most schools and we get this, what other people never did,” ninth-grade dental program student Christine Bowser said. “All the teachers here are nice and they’re firm with us, but they teach us as well so, we respect them for that.”

Ninth-grader She’lae Dollard-Dukes said the new programs offer her a motivating atmosphere in which to learn.

“It separates us from the foolishness and people that just don’t care. It brings positive energy and it helps,” Dollard-Dukes said. “This school gives you more opportunity, and it gives us more stuff to do.”

Two anatomical correct medical manikins laid on two separate gurneys in the health related technologies classroom. Covered with bed sheets, the manikins are used during instructional periods.

Michael Rothstein has worked as a nurse for over 20 years and has taught health related technologies classes for a decade. Rothstein said he likes the drive of KCA students.

“[There’s] a lot more motivation here,” Rothstein said.

For an upcoming epidemiology class, students will learn about food borne illnesses. Rothstein has four teacher volunteers — acting as patients — read scripts and students have to interview them to determine which illness was present in the patients.

These new classes have led to the school’s proposed name change, Kensington Health Sciences Academy. According to school administration, the name change will be implemented for the next academic year.

“With the focus of changing the name of the school and increasing the relationships that we share with our community partners to provide more of a language that you’ll here with our upperclassmen, the word we constantly use is options. We want our kids to have options in terms of what they can do and whatever they opt to do we want them ready for that experience,” Williams said.

In his fourth year, Williams called KCA students “the difference makers.” He said the relationships with students make KCA special.

“We’re a smaller school which is a great benefit. We know every kid in the school. We know their families. There’s a certain rapport we have that is apart of the culture of the school that allows us to raise the academic bar,” Williams said.

“The thing that makes our school unique is the fact that just about everyone here has bought into our vision of how a school should be. We feel we have a mission as opposed to jobs. We’re going to bring about a good education for these kids and to enhance their future,” Dean of Students Ed Green said. “I think my job is to change lives.”

In a pre-calculus math class, seniors Quram King and Flor Melendez reviewed their homework. Both students had high PSSAs scores and took AP government and AP English courses.

“The AP classes really prepare you for college. In terms of enrolling, they really help you with every single step and the counselors are good and help you apply,” King said.

He is interested in majoring in music production and theater in college.

“Mr. Williams is always trying. They really want to give you a challenge and right now, there’s a push,” Melendez said.

She has been accepted into Penn State Berks.

During a health class, students discussed factors of the obesity issue among Americans and how to combat this problem with proper nutrition. Health and physical education teacher, Brian Zufolo had students watch the 2004 Morgan Spurlock documentary, “Super Size Me.”

“There are some things that catch their attention. In nutrition, we talk about things like fast food or things kind of related to them and their pretty interested in it,” Zufolo said.

In his fourth year, Zufolo said he likes teaching health and physical education because it is practical and relatable to students.

“I enjoy teaching my content. I feel that this is something that they can all relate to. This is information that they need everyday. These things they need for life. This is basic living skills. So I feel like I have an important job,” Zufolo said.

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