ALLENTOWN, Pa. | Seven students graduated this week from a Lehigh Career & Technical Institute program designed to meet the growing need for front-of-the-house staff created by Allentown’s restaurant boom.
LCTI celebrated the first class of PACT Plus graduates on Wednesday morning at Shula’s Steak House, 27 N. Seventh St. An 11:30 a.m. luncheon for students follow an 11 a.m. tour of the restaurant, which began welcoming customers to its downtown digs in July following a move to the city from Upper Saucon Township.
LCTI Executive Director Sandra Himes and PACT Plus instructor John O’Connell joined students for the tour, led by Shula’s general manager Scott Craver.
The students — rising seniors at Allen and Dieruff high schools who are in LCTI’s Diversified Career Occupations program and have expressed interest in the food service and hospitality industry — graduated from the 20-hour program with skills necessary to successfully work the front of the house at any upscale restaurant. They also have a nationally recognized certification (Certified Dining Room Associate) from the Federation of Dining Room Professionals under their belts and the opportunity to interview for open positions at Shula’s, The Hamilton Kitchen & Bar, Billy’s Downtown Diner, The Dime and ROAR.
Wednesday’s luncheon served as both a graduation celebration and a learning experience for students. As guests at Shula’s, they experienced the kind of quality service they’ve spent the last few weeks learning to deliver.
The seven graduates are:
The City of Allentown and the Upside Allentown Neighborhood Partnership Program are providing funding for the classes; the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board and Lehigh Carbon Community College also are providing support.
PACT Plus training was split into five, four-hour sessions that began Aug. 5 and were led by O’Connell, who is a culinary arts teacher at LCTI. Sacred Heart Hospital donated space for the program, which was only open to Allentown School District students.
Holding classes at Sacred Heart made it easy for students to get to and from each session. It also meant that students could walk to participating restaurants for talks and tours during class.
PACT Plus is a more intensive version of LCCC’s eight-hour PACT or Professional Attitude and Communication Training program, which is available for adult Allentown residents seeking jobs at downtown restaurants.
Another round of training will be offered in September to students in LCTI’s Culinary Arts program who attend Allen and Dieruff. Eventually, LCTI hopes to make PACT Plus training part of the culinary arts curriculum for students from all nine sending school districts.
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