Sullivan HS Cooking Class Brings Parents, Students Together
STUDENTS | May 18, 2018
Sullivan HS Cooking Class Brings Parents, Students Together

Peeling, chopping and dicing vegetables, that was part of the food prep lesson for students in Sullivan High School’s new side-by-side cooking class.

It’s also the school’s first class that combines parents and students.

Over the next six weeks, parents from the Rogers Park Parent University will learn how to prepare a meal and assist the class’s eight diverse learners. They meet once a week. The free program for parents is made possible through the University of Illinois Extension.

This week students were divided into small groups with one or two parents at a table to assist. Each group was given vegetables to peel and chop. There were onions, eggplants, bell peppers and more.

“Great job!” says one parent to a student with bell peppers.

“Ok, watch me, now you try,” says another parent who demonstrates how to hold the knife.

While the vegetables were getting sautéed by one of the co-instructors, the other discussed nutrition, demonstrating portion sizes by holding up a paper plate sectioned into the five food groups: fruit, grains, proteins, vegetables and dairy.

“What goes into the grains part?” she asked.

Students shouted out answers. “Bread!” “Cereal?”

This part of class was also an opportunity for parents to ask their own dietary and nutrition questions. Some asked about fiber, others wanted to know if almond milk is okay to drink.

At the end of their lesson, it was time to eat. For lunch they enjoyed sautéed mixed vegetables cooked in a tomato-based sauce, sprinkled with parmesan cheese and served with a side of couscous, a Mediterranean grain.

Parent volunteer Bridget Harris said the food turned out great and she plans to add it to her list of meals to cook at home. A South Side native, now living on the North Side, Harris said she’s always been a supporter of the Parent University.

“I think it’s really great to be able to learn how to cook healthy,” Harris said. “They can take this home and have the experience with their parents or family, and friends.”

This was Cindy Even’s first class. Two of her grandsons attend Sullivan.

“I thought it was wonderful, it was great,” she said. “I took in a lot of new stuff.”

She wanted to get involved to give back.

“I used to be a teenager so I just wanted to be a positive mentor for them,” she said.

Les Kniskern is the Family and Community Engagement Manager for Chicago Public Schools’ Network 2. He oversees Sullivan’s Parent University.

It was created in January, he said.

In conversation with the school’s principal Kniskern said he “realized it could be a great opportunity to put our parents side by side with our diverse learner students.”

The benefits of this new class go both ways.

“Our students need role models, and they’re learning life skills,” he said. “It’s also really great for our parents to be able to have an opportunity to work with our students in the classroom. They don’t always have that opportunity.”

The school is working on creating a side-by-side coding class next.