High schools offer Prostart hospitality career program

Business Report Correspondent

Starting next fall, some Boulder County high school students will have the opportunity to learn firsthand about the hospitality business.

The ProStart program is partnering with the Boulder Valley School District and the Boulder Hotel/Motel Association. ProStart is a two-year food service and hospitality management program that offers junior and senior high school students the opportunity to work in mentored industry internships.

Monarch High School is the first Boulder Valley school to adopt the program. Boulder High School and Fairview High School are slated to offer the program starting in the fall of 2002.

“Students, parents and teachers seem very excited and enthusiastic about the program,´ said Donna Erlewine, a teacher of consumer and family studies at Monarch High School. Erlewine said students have a great interest about the level of professionalism associated with the program.

ProStart is broken into a two-year curriculum, according to Mary Mino, president of the Colorado Restaurant Association Education Fund. Year one consists of a strong food service curriculum. Students take classes that teach basics like knife handling and sanitation. Then they are placed in a hotel restaurant with a mentor.

Year two focuses on a hospitality and lodging curriculum. Students work in another department within the hotel in which they are interested. Students can work in sales and marketing, accounting, front desk services or banquet services.

Students get paid by the hotel for their internship and credit can be applied at some post secondary schools, like Johnson & Wales in Denver and state universities such as Colorado State and Metropolitan State College.

Mary Ann Mahoney of the Boulder Hotel and Motel Association said she thought it was important to educate students about the hospitality business. She researched and found ProStart.

“It is wonderful for us that a well-rounded curriculum was already in place with ProStart instead of reinventing the wheel,´ said Neale Ward, executive director of the Boulder Hotel and Motel Association.

The ProStart program is being implemented in 11 school districts in Colorado.