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National Restaurant Association - Michigan student: 'ProStart helps us take initiative'

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Michigan student: 'ProStart helps us take initiative'

LeSaesha Pollard wants high school administrators to see ProStart the way she and other high school students do.

The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation's two-year culinary and hospitality management curriculum helps students learn to be responsible, express themselves creatively and run businesses, says Pollard, a senior at Canton (Mich.) High School.

Pollard and two ProStart classmates addressed the National Restaurant Association Board of Directors Sunday. They also presented their winning restaurant concept, Peninsula, at the NRA Show. The concept took first place in the Michigan ProStart Invitational and fourth place at the National ProStart Invitational.

"ProStart has helped a lot of students," says Pollard. "It helps us take initiative."

As part of the student's ProStart class, they run a restaurant, Salem Rock Cafe, at their school. While visiting the NRA Show, they found a few items they thought would enhance the lunch-only operation.

Among them: a device that automatically filters fryer grease. "We have a fryer, and we hate cleaning it," Pollard says. "That would make everything so much easier."

An ice cream station with a portion-controlled topping stand also caught their eye. An ice cream stand would go over well with the student customer base, Pollard says.

Their trip to the NRA Show and board meeting -- as well as their honors at the state and national ProStart competitions -- were encouraging to the students. Next fall, the school risks losing all but one ProStart class because of budgetary problems.

If administrators realized the impact ProStart had on students' lives, they might decide to retain the full program, Pollard says.

"We can run a business by ourselves if we have the proper foundation," she says. "We need this as our foundation."

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