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Author: Chantal Chandler

Culinary Arts Launches New Mentoring Program with the HBA

The Hospitality Business Alliance (HBA) has entered into an exclusive partnership with South Tech’s Culinary Arts Program. The HBA’s mission is to foster a culture of respect and cooperation between hospitality businesses and their supplier partners and South Tech hosts one of only two American Culinary Federation certified high school programs in the St. Louis region (the other is at our partner school North Tech). This cooperative program will enhance our curriculum through one to one mentorship.

The program brings senior level students together with a mentor who will work with them throughout the school year. After initial meetings and interviews in September, students will job shadow with their mentor in October or November, check-in during December for a grade and professionalism review, have an additional job shadowing experience in the spring, then mentors and students will end the year with a luncheon in April. Mentors will dedicate a minimum of 7 hours to their student over the course of the school year and also have the option to provide equipment, in-class trainings, field trips, guest speakers,  or to serve as a judge for the many contests our students compete in each year. Mentors are also welcome to join the Culinary Arts advisory board that meets twice annually to conduct program and curriculum reviews.

Paul Witwer, a 30 plus year veteran of the hospitality industry and employee of Performance Food Group Middendorf, is a co-founder of the HBA. He was exposed to the South Tech’s Culinary Arts program two years ago and was immediately impressed. The level of professionalism, the quality, the standards, and the work ethic of the instructors and the students went well beyond his expectations. “They are awesome, full of energy, and so professional and disciplined,” he said of the students.

Melissa Maness and David Bass, program instructors, developed the mentoring program with Witwer to aid both students and the industry. Due to a need for more highly skilled and talented employees in the industry, Witwer felt that there were multiple companies who would be interested in supporting South Tech’s Culinary Arts program. “I think everybody should participate,” he said.

The program has received an overwhelming amount of support, with 21 mentors from 13 different local and regional companies already committed to serve including: Alex Herman, Anne Horton, Jay Vaughn, Chris Desens, and Rob Lyons of Performance Food Group, Josh Galliano of Companion, Lute Cain of Forest Hills Country Club, Christian Gullet and Robert Opdenbrouw of Lutheran Senior Services, Bob Menedez of Sunset 44, Grant Higgs and Bart Phillips of Missouri Athletic Club, Dan Holtgrave of Old Warson Country Club, Chris Stroup of Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark, Brian Menzel of Glen Echo Country Club, Josh Schlink of River City Casino, Bobby Tessler of St. Louis Wing Company, Todd Corum of the St. Louis Zoo, William Ortmann and Beau Meadows of Cardinals Nation, and David Laufer of River City Casino.

To learn more about the HBA, visit their website here:  http://hospitalitybusinessalliance.com/.
South Tech Students Soar at SkillsUSA National Competitions

South Tech students had an amazing week in Louisville, KY last month where they attended in the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. The annual conference included competitions, break out sessions, celebrations, team building events, and a guest speaking engagement with Mike Rowe of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation.

Competing nationally requires preparation, practice, and discipline and South Tech’s results reflect the hard work of our students. We are so proud of them and their accomplishments.

To learn more about SkillsUSA and the National Conference, visit their website at SkillsUSA or watch this fun video of the week in review.

Amanda Ohlau – elected President of Missouri’s SkillsUSA State Officer Team 2017-18
Amanda also participated in the Action Skills contest with Zach Goetter as her model. She will be featured in an upcoming article in the national SkillsUSA publication Champions.

IT Services – Christopher Moore – 3rd place
Chris has only just finished his junior year and performed exceptionally well in this very challenging contest. He also passed his A+ certification (IRC) during the competition.

Firefighting – Patrick (Alex) Way – 13th place
Alex earned his EMT certification and his Fire I and II certifications before he left for Louisville. Alex’s instructor, Dave Hope, was extremely proud of his performance against some very tough competition. Alex is now employed at Barnes Hospital on the Cardio Thoracic floor as a Patient Care Technician.

Welding Fabrication – Joel Besch, Jared Jacquot, Jason Neier – 7th place
This dedicated team drove to the Sheet Metal Workers facility (Local 36) downtown three mornings per week since early May to prepare for this competition because their program lab was undergoing renovations.

Welding Sculpture – Alex Juelfs – 6th place
Alex competed nationally for the second time this year. Qualifying for nationals once is a significant accomplishment. Alex has set the bar very high for future South Tech welding sculpture competitors.

Quiz Bowl – Joseph Steinhoff, Ashlynne Dietrich, Kai Hoffman, Kelaiah Killmade – 23rd place
Mrs. Schnurbush, Quiz Bowl sponsor, said this team of first-year students performed very well in a competitive field. She expects them to hard to beat in next year’s contest.

Power Equipment Technology – Christopher Ownbey – 14th place
Chris participated in his major’s Forklift Repair program through our partnership with Heubel Material Handling. He earned an internship with them and is now working for them as a full-time technician.

Job Demonstration A – Hadley (Shae) McNeill – 13th place
The judges gave Shae very high marks (over 90%) but there was just so much competition.

Automated Manufacturing Technology – Caleb Harter, Mike Steppig, Mark Witte – 11th place
This team’s resilience impressed their sponsors. When they arrived to their pre-contest meeting, they learned that their contest had changed and they would be required to compete with unfamiliar machinery. Even though their fellow competitors had up to 48 hours to familiarize themselves with these changes, our team handled themselves in an incredibly mature and sportsman-like way and rose to the challenge.

South Tech Honors Students at Annual Tops at Tech Banquet

South Tech honored students during our annual Tops at Tech Banquet on Thursday, April 27th at Andre’s West in Fenton, Missouri. Each instructor selected one student to represent their major based on their performance, dedication, and enthusiasm. Families joined their students and teachers for the evening event, hosted by principal Jacob Lohse. Award recipients were:


  • Electronics & Robotics – Anthony Truong, Lindbergh, Missouri Institute of Science and Technology
  • Precision Machining – Caleb Harter, Home School, Western Kentucky University
  • Welding – Harrison Dye, Eureka, Missouri Welding Institute
  • MAKES – Alex Bird, Webster Groves, Continuing Studies at South Tech


  • Graphic Design – Tristan Kottemann, Affton, St. Louis Community College
  • Cisco Networking Academy – Maxxwell Diebold, Maplewood-Richmond Heights, Southeast Missouri State
  • Web & Computer Programming – Maxwell Buckel, Oakville, Missouri Institute of Science and Technology


  • Carpentry – Barrett Province, Parkway South, St. Louis Community College
  • Electrical Trades – Sean Goody, Mehlville, Beginning Career in Field
  • HVAC – Ethan Portray, Home School, Ranken Technical College
  • General Construction – Connor Lange, Mehlville, Apprenticeship with Hamtil Construction
  • Construction Methods & Materials – Thomas Williams, Eureka, Considering Trade Schools and Employment


  • Cosmetology – Madison Kuennen, Lindbergh, Continuing Studies at South Tech
  • Cosmetology – Allison Lawton, Lindbergh, Fontbonne University
  • Culinary Arts – Julie Evers, Lindbergh, St. Louis Community College
  • Culinary Arts – Sierra Plummer, Valley Park, St. Louis Community College
  • Early Childhood Education – Abby Hobold, Mehlville, Truman State University


  • Dental Sciences – Inna Solomakhina, Marquette, St. Louis Community College
  • Health Sciences – Alexandra Heveroh, Oakville, Bradley University
  • Health Sciences – Morgan Harter, Home School, Southeast Missouri State
  • Pharmacy Sciences – Lakelus Corbin, Kirkwood, St. Louis Community College
  • Pre-Professional Health Sciences Academy – MacKenna Morgan, St. Louis Community College and continued work as a PCT at St. Louis Children’s Hospital
  • Veterinary Assistant – Joseph Vanlieshout, Oakville, St. Louis Community College
  • Veterinary Assistant – Alexis Koch, Mehlville, St. Louis Community College


  • Emergency Medical Technician – Chase Rogers, Marquette, University of Southern Florida
  • Firefighting – Austin Menning, Oakville, Continuing Studies at South Tech
  • Law Enforcement – Ethan Morris, Mehlville, University of Missouri – St. Louis


  • Auto Body – Branden Speckman, Parkway South, Plans to open his own business
  • Auto Technology – Anthony Howell, Mehlville, Ranken Technical College
  • Auto Technology – Eric VonFeldt, Rockwood Summit, State Technical College
  • Motorcycle & Small Engine Tech – Brian Rolwes, Marquette, Beginning Career in Field
South Tech also recognized outstanding staff members during the event. Sally DiFani, College and Career counselor and SkillsUSA Co-Lead Sponsor was awarded teacher of the year for the second time since joining our staff. And our new Attendance Secretary, Sarah McManus, earned the staff member of the year award.
PARIC Joins South Tech as Industry Partner

South Tech’s Construction Innovations students were treated to a special kick-off to their classes hosted by our newest industry partner, St. Louis’ PARIC Construction.

Jeffrey Eye, Manager of Learning and Development for PARIC, and Bill Willman – Superintendent, shared a brief presentation with students about the company’s current projects, growth, and employee needs. The program included information about buildings like the Scott Trade Center so students could see the vast scale and scope of the types of major construction projects they could work on someday, as well as an emphasis on safety. Eye and Willman also distributed PARIC bags to each student which included their safety vest, safety glasses, and personalized hard hats which the company had provided free of charge.

PARIC wants to “build the pipeline”, Eye said. Through mentoring, speaker visits, job site visits and tours, and more, they will support students in South Tech’s construction programs at the junior and senior level and beyond. PARIC has experienced tremendous growth over the last two years, more than doubling the number of carpenters in their Self-Perform group (PARIC’s own group of full-time tradespeople). They have offered a college internship program for several years in engineering, estimating, and management, but wanted to extend their reach further back in order to inspire and mentor students at the high school level.

Sharing information about regional opportunities in construction with students is constant practice at South Tech as the need for skilled tradespeople continues to grow and the skills gap remains unfilled. Partnering with secondary and post-secondary educators in the fields that fuel these career paths is becoming a key component of industry outreach strategies and we are proud to have PARIC join our efforts to inspire and prepare young people for the construction careers they explore at South Tech.

I-CAR Hosts Tech Students at Third Annual Job Fair

In early May, students in our transportation majors were invited to attend a job fair sponsored by the St. Louis I-CAR Committee in conjunction with the Collision Repair Education Foundation at the Enterprise Leasing facility in St. Charles. South Tech majors were asked to join as several employers gathered at the event sought to meet with potential applicants. Students from Ranken Technical College, Lewis & Clark Career Center, and North Tech High School were also invited to attend.

This was I-CAR’s third job fair and each has been more successful than the last. This fall, Gateway Motorsports Park will host the 4th event during the NHRA Nationals there. “We are very fortunate to have an industry that supportive of our school and its students,” said Ken Neuman, instructor of South Tech’s Auto Body program.

Ameren Skilled Craft Participants Tour Sioux Power Plant

Ameren Skilled Craft Education Program participants were treated to a tour of the Sioux Power Plant in West Alton, Missouri on April 24th. Students toured all levels of the plant including the cyclone boiler, the emissions scrubber system, coal reserves and conveyers, and the computer control centers which run and monitor the plant. They were also treated to a luncheon and meetings with managers from the plant who answered questions and shared an overview of the plant’s functions.

Two North Tech graduates, George Bazzle (2016, Electrical Trades) and Charles Rowe (2016, Precision Machining), who were recently hired by Ameren to work at the Sioux plant joined the students during lunch and shared their experiences. All Ameren plant employees begin as laborers earning approximately $17 an hour. With overtime, Bazzle and Rowe will earn around $55,000 in their first year with the utility provider. Both emphasized the importance of starting good habits now because punctuality is critical to a successful career with Ameren. Opportunities to move upward are frequent and Bazzle and Rowe encouraged students to always be working towards their next goals. Ambitious and responsible employees can move into apprenticeships with higher pay and specialized training.

During May, Ameren will be sending representatives from their Human Resources department to North and South Tech to administer their pre-employment exam to our Skilled Craft Education Program participants. This is a big advantage for our students due to the volume of applicants Ameren experiences when openings are posted.

To learn more about the Skilled Craft Education Program, click here.

South Tech Welders Finish Strong with the Help of Local 36

This past June, several South Tech students traveled to Louisville, Kentucky to compete in the SkillsUSA National Championships. Among them were Joel Besch, Jared Jacquot, and Jason Neier. With the help of Mark Carron, teacher and employee of the Sheet Metal Workers Union Local 36, this team of three overcame some significant challenges as they prepared for the Welding Fabrication competition and finished 7th in the nation.

The South Tech Welding lab underwent a complete renovation over the summer but construction of their classroom began in late spring. Although the team had been through regional and state SkillsUSA contests, among several other competitions during the year, practice before nationals was still critical. Our campus didn’t have an appropriate place in which to prepare, so our partners at the Sheet Metals Local 36 graciously offered them the use of their extensive welding lab. By the time our students were ready to travel to Louisville, they also had an additional mentor and coach.

Mark Carron, a highly skilled and revered member of the union, stepped in to assist the team whenever they were at the union campus. Carron has been with the union for several years and also serves as one of their instructors teaching adult classes at night. He had never worked with high school students before and enjoyed inspiring them while sharing his vast knowledge of fabrication and welding. The competition required that students use both of these skills to design and build a combination welding and cutting table. “It was a complex competition”, said Harmon as he described coaching the team to think of fabrication in terms of working backwards from their finished project. Among many specifications, skills and tools required, Carron helped them as they used Auto Cad, learned to monitor cut lists, determined which tools they would use, and practiced efficient time management. Carron said they came up with “a really good design” and picked up fabrication skills very well considering the limited prep time. He felt brought together their ideas, skills, and personalities to create a winning team.

Besch, Jacquot, and Neier spent several evenings at the union prior to the end of the school year. Additionally, daytime sessions from 6am to 12pm were added during the summer weeks leading up to the competition. Carron was with the team for the bulk of these sessions and the Local 36 supplied all of the tools and materials the team needed. Carron’s time commitment was incredibly generous and the students were very grateful.

Senior Joel Besch learned a lot from Carron and felt he was really helpful. “He taught me a lot about torch cutting and had a lot of good ideas,” Besch said. Prepping for the competition required the team to troubleshoot their design as they progressed and Carron’s guidance helped them through brainstorming their developmental design process. Besch said each team member found their niche as they worked through the project. He focused on torch cutting, layout, and prepping proper edges, Jacquout did the bulk of the design and layout work, and Neier concentrated on the welding components. The assistance from Carron and the Local 36 was critical, Besch said, “We couldn’t have done this without them.”

Welding instructor Adam Holt agreed and credited Local 36 for their willingness to help and their ongoing support. The union donates equipment and materials to our programs and members serve on our Welding and HVAC advisory boards who are always available to assist our students and teachers. Holt felt Carron’s guidance helped his team develop their work ethic further as they perfected their teamwork. He noticed improvements in their communications skills as well.

South Tech’s business and industry partners provide our students with much more than a glimpse into the world of work. Through mentorship, internships, shadowing experiences, training and more, our partners help us provide students with the skills sought by employers that enhance their degrees and certifications. To learn more about the Sheet Metal Workers Union Local 36, visit their website at http://sheetmetal36.org . Businesses interested in partnering with South Tech can contact our school at 314-989-7400.

South Tech Culinary Alumnus Excels at Oaklawn

Cooking 75,000 pounds of corned beef in 54 days may sound daunting to some, but not Will Green. The 2013 South Tech Culinary Arts graduate recently became the Executive Sous Chef of Oaklawn Jockey Club in Hot Springs, Arkansas and prepping for the racing season is just one of his many duties in this exciting and demanding job.

In his new role, Green supervises 8 dining rooms, 7 kitchens, and 29 concession stands in support of Oaklawn’s operations. In addition to hosting racing season, Oaklawn is a year-round racing and gaming entertainment complex with a casino, gaming rooms, private dining and parties, and special marketing events. Executive Sous Chef’s report directly to the Executive Chef and supervise all aspects of dining. They manage staff, place food and beverage orders, plan menus, and ensure all health and safety standards are met. Green is prepared, as he has been training for this responsibility since he was in high school.

After graduation from South Tech, Green studied at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. His training there included a select internship at Walt Disney World’s Five Diamond Award winning restaurant, Victoria & Albert’s in the Grand Floridian Resort. “My Disney experience was incredible! I learned so much more than I could have ever hoped! I really learned a lot of discipline and a lot of great skills and techniques while I was there,” said Green. He also met my wife, Lauren, while interning and they returned to the resort to marry last year.

After graduating from college, Green returned to St. Louis and worked for Truffles in Ladue, but transferred to Oaklawn in June of 2015 to be closer to his fiancé. Green started as a Kitchen Manager for Oaklawn’s main production kitchen and quickly rose through the ranks.

Green loves the challenges of his job and appreciates that everyday he has something new to manage. “I am very fortunate to get to work with an amazing team. I work under an amazing Executive Chef who is an encyclopedia of knowledge. He has taught me so much about leading a staff and managing a large number of people,” said Green. He credits the “awesome team of supervisors that work under us” for keeping the operation running smoothly.

Green appreciates the generous company that has allowed him to embrace such a demanding and critical role early in his career. “I’m very fortunate to work for an incredible company for a great family that fosters an environment for career growth and learning,” he said.

Learn more about the great opportunities in South Tech’s Culinary Arts major here: http://southtechnical.org/programs/

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