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Culinary student heads to nationals
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Two students who attend Newton College and Career Academy won awards at the SkillsUSA Georgia State Leadership and Skills Conference, and one of the students has a chance to compete at the national level this summer, with the help of the community.

SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit career and technical student organization. SkillsUSA Georgia is the state chapter of the national organization, for Georgia’s secondary schools.

At the Georgia conference/competition, Newton High School junior Alexius Beckhom won first place in the Restaurant Service competition and Alcovy High School senior Joseph Harrison won second place in Culinary Arts competition.
The conference was held at the Georgia International Convention Center in Atlanta.

Harrison competed by preparing a meal: sautéed chicken breast topped with a lemon, butter and herb sauce; a spring vegetable medley; a mixed greens salad; a soup; and a side of couscous.

“The last competition I went to was a team thing, so to be recognized solo was simply my accomplishment and pretty great for me,’’ he said. “This was my first year doing any kind of clubs or anything in high school.’’

In Beckhom’s competition, she had to set up the “front of the house” for a restaurant.

This included setting the tables properly for different types of meals, folding napkins and essentially serving as a hostess.

When she placed first in the state, she said, “I was shocked.”

Beckhom now has the opportunity to represent the state at the SkillsUSA national championships in Kansas City, Mo., in June. NCCA culinary arts instructor and Chef Jeanie Newton said the school needs to raise $2,000 to fund Beckhom’s trip to Kansas City.

In that national competition, Beckhom has the chance to win a full-ride scholarship to a culinary arts school.
In the Culinary Arts program at the Career Academy, Newton said, “Students work side by side with me and learn what it’s really like to work in a restaurant. I mean it’s real in here. The Food Network and stuff makes it look so glamorous, and [working in] culinary arts is a very hard job.

“They get hands-on experience; we run a catering business, and they get to see what it’s really like.”

To make a donation to help Beckhom attend the conference, contact the Newton College and Career Academy at 678-625-6769 or Chef Jeanie Newton at 770-788-5478 or 678-544-0374.