On February 12, a group of students from Santa Clara High School’s new Future Homemakers of America- Home Economics Related Occupations (FHA-HERO) chapter donned red blazers, khaki slacks, and closed-toe leather shoes. Meeting up with students from 16 other schools at the FHA-HERO Region 5 Spring Meeting and Qualifying Competitive Recognition Events at Menlo Atherton High School, the Santa Clara students put their best feet forward. At the end of the day, they walked away with the first place prize for their team’s chapter exhibit and a fourth place prize for a student’s menu planning and table display. These honors are very significant, considering that this is the FHA-HERO chapter’s inaugural year at the high school.
“When I first came to Santa Clara High School last year, there were just two beginning level culinary courses available to students- one semester of baking and one semester of cooking,” says Kathy Hopp, the school’s culinary arts teacher and FHA-HERO advisor. “A number of the kids would take the classes back to back and they’d be done. There was nothing they could progress into even though they were interested in doing more. There were also students that couldn’t make room for those classes in their schedule even though they were interested in learning about this. I thought having a chapter of FHA-HERO could provide that opportunity for more students to experience the culinary arts and explore home economics related occupations.”
The FHA programs of 50 years ago helped prepare participants to be homemakers, says Hopp, but the FHA-HERO program today comes with a vocational and leadership emphasis.
“Because there are so many different facets to being part of an FHA-HERO program, such as leadership, competition, and community service, my group of kids this year had a real hand in deciding how they want Santa Clara High School’s FHA-HERO program to look like,” Hopp says. “Right now, we have about two dozen kids in the group. I could not have asked for a better group of kids.”
Hopp’s students would probably say they could not have asked for a better teacher.
Bobby Gomez, senior and vice-president of the chapter, would like to enter the hospitality industry on the business management side. He credits the FHA-HERO program for equipping him with valuable skills.
“Ms. Hopp is a great teacher and probably my greatest role model for the hospitality industry because she comes to work with a great smile and loves doing her job,” Gomez says.
At the regional competition, sophomore Jennifer Ho’s entry menu planning and table display category placed her in the top five, qualifying her to enter the state competition.
“Ms. Hopp inspired me to go out of my comfort zone and try something new [for my entry],” Ho says. “Even though we just started out in this club, I’ve gained a lot of leadership skills and all the people in the club are really caring, and we support each other a lot.”