By Bill Cantwell
---- — When you thought of Whittier Regional High decades ago, students wielding hammers and turning wrenches would likely come to mind.
It was the image of a trade school where young people went to become carpenters, plumbers and electricians.
Then came the addition of courses such as graphic arts and other computer-related studies, offerings that set up students to pursue careers which often led them to college before they became professionals.
Now the school has added hospitality management to its list of majors. The new curriculum will teach students how to run hotels and motels and various other aspects of that industry, including tourism and event planning.
The new program’s curriculum, budget and guidelines were approved by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, after a visit by state officials. Hospitality management is being offered under Whittier’s culinary arts department.
The flurry of large and small functions that feature hospitality services which occur weekly at the school made it a natural fit, said culinary arts teacher Cathie Baines. Even without the program, many students who graduated from Whittier’s culinary arts department went on to pursue hospitality management in college.
“I thought it would be wonderful to be able to offer it to our students,’’ said Baines, who worked in restaurants and hotels for many years before becoming a teacher. “The interest is definitely here, and the more knowledge and experience they have in the field they plan to pursue, the better.’’
Students will study curriculum from the American Hotel and Lodging Association Educational Institute and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.
Whittier’s program will explore the fundamentals of hospitality and tourism, including front desk personnel duties, food and beverage service, housekeeping operations, facility personnel, banquet and catering service, meeting and event planning, and hospitality marketing and sales.
Three Whittier seniors have already enrolled in the program.
The focus for those who choose it will move away from the kitchen and bakery rotations they experience during their sophomore year and into management of the school’s restaurant and functions hosted at Whittier.
Those events include preparing interview space for salon owners who visit to interview cosmetology students, the annual Advisory Board dinner for 250 members, the school’s open house, School Committee meetings and luncheons for state officials.
Like all vocational-technical programs, hospitality management will have an advisory board, with members from the industry to guide the program on curriculum and other matters.
Students will visit Endicott College in Beverly this school year to meet Bill Samenfink, dean of the Endicott School of Hospitality Management.
He is one of Whittier’s newest advisory board members.
Students in the program will have an opportunity to earn the following industry certifications while at Whittier: ServSafe Food, ServSafe Alcohol, Chokesaver/CPR, Allergen Training Program and OSHA 10-hour General Industry Certification.
Students may also participate in SkillsUSA and Massachusetts Restaurant competitions.
WHAT STUDENTS CAN STUDY
Hotel front desk work
Food and beverage service
Banquet and catering service
Meeting and event planning
Hospitality marketing and sales