Dayton students open dining room |

Dayton students open dining room

Teri Vance
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

DAYTON ” As he surveyed the dishes being prepared by students in his culinary arts class at Dayton High School, David Palmer liked what he saw.

“You people are making me very, very happy,” he said.

Although expectations are always high in the class, the stakes on Friday were especially elevated.

“It’s our culinary reputations on the line,” said Ray Sanchez, 17.

The program, which began at the school four years ago, has always had a working kitchen but opened its dining room Friday, serving guests for the first time.

“I’ve been nervous for two weeks,” said Tony Erickson, 18, who plans to pursue a career as a chef.

“My mom’s been teaching me to cook since I could reach the counter,” he said. “I didn’t really seriously consider it until sophomore year when I met Mr. Palmer. He told me about his experience, and it pretty much sealed the deal.”

The second-year students invited school staff and district officials to the inaugural meal.

Associate superintendent Teri White attended the luncheon of Japanese cuisine.

White was the principal of the high school when Palmer applied for a social studies job. When she and other administrators learned of his two decades of experience in culinary, they asked him to start a program there.

“Four short years later, here it is,” she said. “To see it come to fruition is very exciting.”

Palmer said the intent of the program is to prepare students for a culinary arts education or for a job right out of high school as a line cook or server.

However, students said it has prepared them in other ways as well.

Fernando Ledezma, 17, plans to attend the Universal Technical Institute in automotive technology, but says his culinary training will help.

“I actually didn’t know how to cook,” he said. “Now I can cook for myself because I’m not going to be with my parents.”

Students divided into teams, some cooking appetizers, others entrees and desserts.

The same students were also charged with presenting the food and serving it to guests.

“Everyone is a little jittery,” Sanchez confessed.

But, as it turned out, there was little to be concerned about.

“I expected it was going to be awesome,” said Spanish teacher Julie Lozada. “It was wonderful.”

– Contact reporter Teri Vance at or 881-1272.