Get to `taste' the work of our students

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Our guess is that you don’t know where the Tides Restaurant is unless you carefully read Tuesday’s Beacon.

You’d be wrong to assume that it is close to the water or even offers a glimpse of the bay. In fact, it’s a windowless cavern that would be better named the Red and Blue Grotto. We say red and blue because those are Toll Gate colors, which have no bearing on political parties. Tides is definitely a sanctuary from politics and rather a place where the flare for conversation is served by students.

The room is in the lower level of the Warwick Area Career and Technical Center and, in a very real sense, a “school laboratory.” This is a place where students in the culinary arts program put their kitchen lessons to the test and learn how to interact with the public twice a week.

On Wednesdays and Fridays the students serve lunch to those who have made reservations. Reservations can be made right up until that morning by calling the center at 734-3161. Also on Wednesdays and Fridays, the students operate the lunch cart where they sell a variety of quick snacks from pizza to calzones and cookies to students and faculty.

Culinary classes are hardly the only “hands on” exercises at the center where classroom lessons are put to practical use. Cosmetology students work with the public; automotive students troubleshoot and repair cars belonging to the public; construction trades students construct buildings and graphics arts students work with non-profits to design posters, program materials and even t-shirts. Warwick Area Career and Technical Center students have designed t-shirts for the Rhode Island Academic Decathlon competition for years.

We bring this up to shine a different light on Warwick schools.

Next Monday, the School Committee will appear before the City Council as they appeal for approval to use $4 million from a 2006 school bond issue. The money will go toward a variety of needy repairs, including the replacement of the aging Vets steam heating system.

Given the reception of the School Committee’s proposed $85 million bond last month, which never made it out of the Council Finance Committee, we imagine Monday’s meeting will be acrimonious with council members questioning (again) why the committee spent money on renovating public spaces like the Vets and Pilgrim auditoriums rather than directing the money into classroom and heating systems. There will also be questions as to exactly how much money was spent last summer with the implication being that the department can’t stick to a budget and, therefore, estimates for the repairs at Vets and other schools can’t be trusted.

We don’t fault the council for doing their due diligence or being the taxpayers’ watchdog. That is an important role.

But before Monday’s meeting, we’d suggest council members pay a visit to some of our schools and see for themselves conditions the bond funds would address. Better yet, they could make reservations at Tides for this Friday where the menu will be fish and chips, Yankee pot roast and linguini with clam sauce. Dessert is purposely left as a surprise. And if they can’t make it Friday, maybe they would want to make reservations for an Irish lunch of corned beef and cabbage Thursday, March 16. Servings are at 11:30 and noon. Meals are under $10.

Of course, Tides isn’t limited to “officials,” but we think some of them would benefit from a different taste of Warwick schools.

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