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NAUGATUCK — Tug Valley High School was recently awarded a $25K EntreEMERGE Grant by the West Virginia Department of Education to assist the school’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) ProStart program.

ProStart is a two-year course of study developed by the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation that introduces students to a wide variety of careers within the restaurant, foodservice and hospitality industry. Students study and practice professional food preparation, international cuisines, food safety and sanitation, customer service relations, cost control and marketing.

Thelma Stanley is in her second school-term as the ProStart instructor at TVHS and said she plans to use the money from the grant to start a new pizza shop at the school run by students.

“After attending a webinar for details on this wonderful opportunity, my wheels began to turn because if any CTE ProStart program in the state needed this $25,000 it was us,” Stanley said. “I came up with the idea of doing a pizza shop because I owned one for over 12 years. I know the ins and outs, and I thought it would be easy to get running off the ground if we receive the grant.”

Stanley said the grant will help grow the program, which saw fewer students enroll this school term mainly due to COVID-19 and issues with virtual schooling. Seven students are enrolled in 2021 ProStart program compared to 20 in 2020.

“Students in this rural area need any edge they can get and anything to help them land that first job when they get out of school,” Stanley said. “This gives them hopes and dreams of maybe they can own their own business one day.”

Stanley said the students will create their own dough and sauce recipe and set prices for their items. Their products will be sold to faculty and at concession stands, but cannot be sold to students, according to Stanley.

“I want my students to have the best opportunity and advantages as any other ProStart student within the state,” Stanley said. “This grant has given me, the teacher, hope for our students. I am looking forward to getting this adventure going. ProStart at Tug Valley High School will not be the same.”

Jarrid McCormick is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. He can be reached by email at jmccormick@HDMediaLLC.com.

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