By Richard Montenegro Brown
CALEXICO — For seniors Anneth Torres and Karol Barcelo, it’s been a nerve-wracking couple of weeks as they and their fellow Calexico High culinary students perfect their pastry-making skills.
Yet the hard work and stress is worth it, they said, as they prep to provide the sweet treats for a major educational fundraiser next week
“Being able to see that they really like the pastries, the different things we do, it’s a big accomplishment for us, because it’s like, ‘yeah, we did that!’” the 17-year-old Karol said of being chosen. “We were able to accomplish them getting a good taste.”
Taking command like they have been taught by their instructor, Chef Fernando Nuñez, the two are already feeling confident in what the culinary program has whipped up and they are ready for the tasting to the begin.
The award-winning Calexico culinary students are just one of several art programs getting ready to show off their work next week at the second annual Imperial County Office of Education Foundation for Education’s Autumn & the Arts fundraiser on Thursday, Oct. 6, to showcase the work of students in the Imperial Valley in the field of the arts.
Seventeen-year-old Anneth said there was a rush of confidence as they donned both their chef outfits and chef personas alongside their classmates when they presented their dishes to ICOE personnel last week. She said they were ready to show that they have learned much under Chef Nuñez and were serious about moving on into the profession.
“That’s our work. We both want to go into the industry, so it’s definitely a way for us to get out there,” Anneth said. “So that’s our work, we are excited to work on it during the process but also to enjoy it, it’s exciting.”
On Sept. 21, ICOE representatives visited the class to choose from among six desserts out of dozens of other ideas, according to Anneth and Karol, that will be served during the Oct. 6 event. In the end, three were chosen, including a fruit tart, Karol’s favorite creation, and a Japanese-style cheesecake, Anneth’s favorite.
Valeria Roman, with the ICOE Foundation of Education, was one of those who was present during the tasting and recalled all the students being eager. Roman said this was true about many of the students she has seen this past week as she was checking on the programs.
“They are all super excited,” she said. “It’s just inspiring because they are so young and their work is just inspiring.”
Next week’s event will just be a taste, literally in some cases, of what the students of Imperial Valley have accomplished in the art field and how important it is as part of their education.
A change this year will be the absence of the student art silent auction. Instead, more than 20 pieces of student artwork will be assembled in a gallery for guests to see; more of an art exhibit of the best student art from around the Imperial County. Participating school art programs include Brawley Union High School, Central Union High School, Holtville High School, Southwest High School, and Wilson Junior High School.
All the artwork on display will be available for sale. Should a piece be sold, the student artist will receive 100 percent of the proceeds toward a scholarship.
There will also be the sales of vases created by Wilson Junior High students that will be tied to “mystery crates.” Each crate will be filled with items from local businesses within the Valley community.
Like last year, there will be a live auction of art pieces from local artists. This includes an original signed print from Imperial Valley native and well-known artist Simón Silva, a mosaic piece created by the students of Sunflower Elementary in collaboration with the Rainforest Art Project, and submissions from MayrArt studio.
All proceeds raised from the auction will go toward scholarships by the ICOE Foundation for Education, which in turn will go toward helping the most vulnerable of the Imperial Valley’s students including students in alternative education, special education, the Imperial Pathways Charter school, and those in programs for drop-out students age 17 and older.
Roman said the ICOE Foundation for Education has already surpassed the amount raised last year just from the support before the event.
“The arts are such an important part of education,” stated Dr. Todd Finnell, County Superintendent of Schools and president of the Foundation for Education in a press release on Tuesday, Sept. 27. “I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for how the arts provide an opportunity to express the emotions, struggles, and interests of each student artist. Hearing them speak about the meaning of their artwork is inspiring, and having an opportunity to share their talents is important to us all.”
Until then, the Calexico culinary students will be working to get their dishes ready for the event. According to Anneth, what remains to be done are the final tweaks to the recipes, improvements, and even considering how the transport will be handled.
The Autumn & the Arts event will be Thursday, Oct. 6, at the Imperial County Office of Education’s conference center from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $100; sales will go toward the foundation’s scholarships and are still ongoing.
This article was written by The Calexico Chronicle.