The following is a good news story about an industrious student and a smart program. Meet Salvatore De Angelis, a senior at St. Robert Catholic High School, a retail meat cutter apprentice and an aspiring chef. Now meet the co-star of this tale -- a savvy initiative called the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP).
Salvatore De Angelis, left, with supervisor Ray Tracey, is apprenticing as a retail meat cutter at Stuart Carroll Quality Meats.
Fully supported by the York Catholic District School Board, OYAP is an opportunity for students to apprentice in a skilled trade while earning high school credits.
"Together with consultants from the ministry, we offer kids an organized, guided approach resulting in a smoother transition between high school, college and the workplace," says Connie Ciarallo, co-op coordinator for St. Robert C.H.S.
De Angelis is apprenticing with Stuart Carroll Quality Meats at the York Farmers Market.
"I'm presently apprenticing as a retail meat cutter but my ultimate goal is to become a chef," De Angelis says. "I'm learning about meat quality, special cuts and how to prepare them. I'm also learning about specific machinery and I'm honing my knife skills. I believe this background will make me a better chef."
Ray Tracey is De Angelis' supervisor at Stuart Carroll and he agrees with his protege's assessment.
"A chef should know as much as possible about cuts of meat for purchasing and pricing as well as preparing," Tracey says. "And Stuart Carroll has a large menu of prepared meats that Sal is learning about - stuffed lamb and pork, marinated chicken. We do it all, including special orders."
This is De Angelis' second work term at Stuart Carroll. "I need between 2,500 and 3,000 hours of skilled work to certify as a meat cutter," De Angelis says. "OYAP accumulates all the hours for me - and I had a paid summer job here, so those hours will also be applied to my total requirement."
During his placement, De Angelis attends classes at St. Robert every other week.
"The co-op teacher monitors the student's progress -- journals are kept and regular evaluations are supplied by the workplace supervisor," Ciarallo says.
"The placements are also supported and enhanced in the classroom with job skills building. Kids can gain a lot of insight into the profession they are entering as well as the working world in general. Our teachers want to reinforce that learning."
And De Angelis is learning a lot. "Stuart Carroll is a beautiful company that is really passionate about their work," Ciarallo says. "And with all the different prep work that goes on, Salvatore is learning a lot about cooking as well -- and he's doing an excellent job."
"I love it here," De Angelis says. "My jobs are varied: I serve customers, make ground beef, prepare meats or help with special cuts. I also take the machines apart to clean them properly, and in the evenings I prep things for the next day."
Says Tracey: "Sal is one in a million -- he's an amazing apprentice. No one works as hard as this kid and we're really lucky to have him."
De Angelis will graduate from St. Robert in June 2004. "After high school, I hope to gain a scholarship at a culinary arts program in Chicago," he says.
Tracey is confident that he'll succeed: "Sal would be the perfect candidate for a scholarship."
With an exceptional background in meat cutting and preparation, a solid resume and a positive professional connection, Salvatore De Angelis is well on his way to realizing his dream and achieving a happy ending to his good news story.
(Reach freelancer Aunie Edwards at email@example.com
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