Sir Charles Tupper Secondary School, Vancouver, BC
The Little School that ROARS – seriously, we do. Sir Charles Tupper Secondary in Vancouver, BC is a ‘small’ high school, grades 8-12, of about 1,000 students. Our mascot is a tiger and our code of conduct is Resobsibility, Ownership, Attitude, Respect and Safety (R.O.A.R.S. ) which is taught, modeled and followed by staff and students. It took me my whole first year in the school understand. When wanting to do something new in the class: ask the students for their input and interests. When a plan is established support is needed to help form the routines…then let the learners fly!
The plan in the our application for a Farm to School grant was to develop a salad bar service with the foundation of locally sourcing and growing our own food for the salad bar. However, by the start of the school year we had significant changes to the original grant group and our classroom – the school teaching cafeteria. It took a little while for us to get our bearings so that we could rethink our plans and get started. (It is so easy to over think). I asked the new group of students to come up with ideas to move forward; they answered and we dove in. The working plan has evolved over the year. It has not always been easy, but the result HAS been fabulous.
We started by growing microgreens to cut and use as part of our salad base. It took a few tries by our Life Skills students to develop their From the Ground Up social enterprise and to learn the hits and misses of what grew well and what was enjoyed. In the next school year we plan to use window boxes to grow herbs in and other tender plants, and outdoor tubs for the cold loving hardier plants. At least 10 tubs will be used s to grow a harvest of potatoes!
However, to our dismay when we filled our new salad bar with those fabulous micro-greens, the line up of kids to feast did not appear. How frustrating it was to go to all that effort and not have the salad service fly! So we reflected and went back to the beginning.
Our class teaches Cooks Training and Level One for the Red Seal Chefs training and we prepare the lunch service for our school daily. We have great kids; they are very polite, but they like hot food. Vegetables are great, and they will eat all happily when vegetables are cooked or offered as a side to the hot entre (except parsnips, we have to disguise those!). So we began to offer a hot veggie bar – yes cooked vegetables. Student participation increased 10 fold!
I would love to now say that we are 100% happy with what we are doing and that the salad bar is a huge success. But um, not quite yet. While over 100 students tried the hot veggies during our last service, we do have over 1000 students!
Focusing on the positive, our classes came up with some great ideas, we have asked for additional feedback from our customers (staff and students) and we are working to get the word out on what we are trying to do. All of that has led to great conversation and ideas that we are putting into use. Everyone is at the table, and we have a plan for next year. We are ROARS.
Responsibility Ownership Attitude Respect Safety