by Melanie Muha
Samantha Perrone, a Parkway West CTC student, also goes by the name “Sunshine” and when you get to speak with her, it becomes apparent why. While keeping up with her school work, Samantha also works two part-time jobs where she is a cook, pastry chef or waitress depending on the day. On top of all of that Samantha says, “For career exploration day for the middle schoolers at Parkway I would volunteer my time to mentor and teach tips and tricks in the kitchen. School tasks like this gave me great experience for working in the kitchen in everyday life.”
Samantha has always been a stand-out student and often makes positive change happen. She says that during her freshman year, “Parkway recognizes one student of each grade level, sophomore, junior, senior, for being exemplary overall. So when I first started Parkway, Freshman of the Year was not an option, but the principals and counselors felt they needed to change that because of my outstanding behavior. I was the first freshman, out of all the freshmen, to ever receive Freshman of the Year (2015-2016).”
While attending Parkway West CTC, one of The Challenge Program’s (TCP) participating schools, she has the opportunity to compete for a Challenge Program Award. When asked about TCP Samantha says, “Being introduced to The Challenge Program in a CTC is a great opportunity. It gives us a chance to strive for something greater while also maybe winning scholarship money along the way.” Although her “base” school is Moon High School, she loves going to the CTC and being enrolled in the Culinary Arts Program because she aspires to be a chef.
CTCs often receive a negative stigma and when asked about this Samantha says, “When people think of CTCs I don’t think people understand how useful they can be. During school, some students look down upon you as if we were playing dress-up in our chef coats and firefighter hats but we aren’t. Sure we are wearing a uniform but we wear it with pride. Because that coat, hat, badge, or scissors come with proud achievement.” It is evident that Parkway West CTC is making Samantha thrive in her academics and personal life.
When asked what her favorite part of attending a CTC is Samantha says, “It’s being with the people around me. Being in culinary, my peers and teachers around me are family and I know they’ll always have my back. There have been times where I have [mistakenly] called my chef “dad” and my dad “chef” because we live and move as one in the kitchen [like a family].”
After she graduates Samantha has plans to further her education. “I want to go to a community college near me to get my core classes finished and then transfer to a big university or college for my baking and pastry art degree. After saving enough money and settling down I would like to open my own shop in Moon that only serves fresh donuts, cakes, and cookies. Every time you walk in it reminds you of momma’s cooking.”
Standout students like Samantha make TCP proud to be welcomed into CTC auditoriums and hallways to spread our message. Samantha is a prime example of how a CTC and some incentive from The Challenge Program can help a student follow their dream and come out of school ready to further their education or enter the workforce. She spreads this message every day with a smile on her face and it seems as though everyone could use a little more “Sunshine” in their life.