North Buncombe ProStart: A Recipe for Success
North Buncombe ProStart: A Recipe for Success
Posted on 03/06/2018
The Blackhawks placed first in the state at the 2018 North Carolina ProStart Invitational in February.By: Benjamin Rickert, Communications Department

Cooking up ideas is a specialty for North Buncombe High students, who placed first in the state at the 2018 North Carolina ProStart Invitational (NCPI) in February. Teams from across the state competed in the two-day high school culinary arts and restaurant management competition held at Charlotte’s Johnson & Wales University. The Blackhawks put their management skills to the test, developing and defending a restaurant concept, and ultimately brought home the trophy. The effort was part of BCS’ local Career and Technical Education (CTE) program, which provides hands-on, real-world experience for students.

"It was an amazing experience,” said senior Karly Plemmons. “Connecting with so many amazing leaders in the hospitality industry proved to us how many opportunities can be created thanks to ProStart."

The North Buncombe students created a business plan for a promising restaurant concept, complete with a menu and promotional food photography. During the process, the team found a mentor in Ms. Leslie Cunningham of The Mann Group, a national consulting firm based in Weaverville.

NBHS students learned the art of food photography.During the NCPI event, presented by Golden Corral, teams presented and defended their restaurant concepts during five waves of judging. Each wave involved a unique panel of three industry judges who asked questions about the proposed business’s operations, marketing, menu/food, costs, and other topics requiring critical thinking.

According to the NC Restaurant & Lodging Association’s press release, students were required to “communicate their entrepreneurial ideas clearly and use their problem-solving skills to solve challenges faced by managers daily.”

In the end, the judges agreed that the Blackhawks presented the most compelling case.

The Blackhawks ProStart team was advised by their CTE/Family & Consumer Sciences teacher Ms. Amy White, and consisted of Karly Plemmons, Ashton English, Logan Carroll, Jake Norconk, and Paul Brown.

“I can't put into words the pride I had watching my students stand in front of industry professionals with such poise and confidence presenting their project,” recalled Ms. White. “I am so proud of this group and the foundation that they have created for the future of the ProStart program in Buncombe County."

Students from NBHS pose during the ProStart Invitational competition.According to its North Carolina website, the goal of the two-year ProStart program is “to shape the future of the hospitality industry in North Carolina” by providing real-life experience, building practical skills, and “a foundation that will last a lifetime.”

While just over a year old at North Buncombe High, the national ProStart program is used in more than 1,700 high schools and reaches nearly 100,000 secondary students.

Buncombe CTE Director Ms. Christy Cheek was thrilled to hear the Blackhawks' news from the competition, and extended her congratulations to Ms. White and her students.

"What an outstanding accomplishment for the program and the school as ProStart at North Buncombe High celebrates its one year birthday," Cheek said. "I was extremely impressed the day I watched Ms. White's students present a trial run of their project, as they merged academic and technical skills to create an award-winning restaurant design that would rival any professional design team."

As state champions in restaurant management, the students will compete at the national level in Providence, Rhode Island this April.

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Learn more about CTE in Buncombe County Schools at CTE.BuncombeSchools.org.
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