Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 16, 2018 (S.T.E.P.) — Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP) trainees, who are part of the hospitality programme at the Advanced Vocational Education Centre (AVEC), had a memorable day on Wednesday February 14 when the world observed and celebrated Valentine’s Day.
First and second year students in the hospitality programme at AVEC, under Ms Grace Warner who is the Technical Instructor for Commercial Food Preparation, took time off to bake in preparation for a Valentine’s Day bake sale which ended up being well patronised not just by faculty and students, but also by visitors some local and others from overseas.
“We had a bake sale because it was Valentine’s just to raise some funds, and an opportunity presented itself,” said Ms Warner. “We did it last year and we are trying to make it an annual event, so that the hospitality programme, the food and beverage class will have a bake sale every Valentine’s Day, and so it is catching on.”
Preparations for this year’s bake sale started on Tuesday February 13 where the trainees started with the making of cupcakes and scaling ingredients for biscuits. The trainees came in early on Valentine’s Day meticulously dressed for the occasion and decorated the cupcakes and cakes.
“The students sat down on Tuesday and created the signs,” noted Ms Warner. “So I told them it is your thing. You wear the uniform you do everything, and they applied themselves. This was done by both those in the first year and those in the second year. When we do anything, we do it as a group.”
First Year students, 13 in all, are under the Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP), and according to Ms Warner, they had joined the college in October last year.
“They (STEP trainees) came in October last year and I have seen an improvement in them since they came in here,” noted Ms Warner. “They are now under a little bit more of a structured programme and so they have settled in and come to realise the significance of the training.”
According to Ms Warner, the STEP trainees have gained self-confidence and mentions of when they do something and they say to her that they did not know they could it.
“It is transformational,” remarked Ms Warner. “It could lead to where it could change their destiny because they come from being unskilled and not doing too much, to now having skills being certified to know that they can be an apprentice in a hotel to go in there as a cook to learn and work the way up.”
Verdict on how good members of the food and beverage class at AVEC are was on Valentine’s Day displayed on two long tables outside their class. Evidence was there for all to see, as patrons had started queuing to purchase the goodies long before the trainees were even fully ready.
A visitor from the USA who comes to the island during winter is Mrs Mary Louise Peterson, who along with her husband Craig and two of their friends was among those who supported the bake sale at AVEC.
“We are from Minneapolis, Minnesota, about 500 miles north of Chicago,” said Mrs Peterson. “Everything looks so good and very professionally done, and they have a very nice variety of things so they have been learning a lot of different things. The sweets look lovely; I will have enough to share with some friends from where we live.”
She concluded: “I am very satisfied with the quality, and I will be even happier after I get to try them.”
Mrs Peterson said that they live in Frigate Bay at Sealofts, where they own a condo. They come to the Federation as visitors as they are not citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis. However, their friends Mr Alan and Mrs Karen Gunderson who are also not citizens have a daughter who is a citizen and lives on the island. They come to be with their grandchildren during winter months.
According to Ms Grace Warner, some of the funds raised from the bake sale will be used when the students go, at a later date, to the Marriott for breakfast and the Ocean Terrace Inn (OTI) for a buffet dinner for the trainees to experience the exposure of just going out.