Monday, September 29, was a great day for career and technical education in New Jersey.
Four county vocational-technical school students were among the Food Network’s “Teen Chopped” contestants honored with a special resolution at the Assembly session at the State House in Trenton.
The network’s first-ever teen tournament aired in July and August. Students were required to create appetizers, entrees and desserts from a basket of mystery ingredients that they had not seen before. Seven of the 16 participants featured in the preliminary and final rounds were from New Jersey.
At the Assembly resolution ceremony, Dante Foggy, of Burlington Township (a junior at Burlington County Institute of Technology, who placed second in the overall competition), Max Aronson, of Woodcliff Lake (a senior at Bergen Academies), Brandon Medley, of Sewell (a sophomore at Gloucester County Institute of Technology) and Ashley Dudley, of Hancocks Bridge (a junior at Salem County Career and Technical High School), were joined by Alexandria Brooks of Voorhees (a junior at Eastern Regional High School), and Lucy Felong (who attended Hightstown High School). The seventh New Jersey contestant, Jake Diamond, a middle school student from Montclair, was unable to attend the ceremony.
The resolution was offered by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, who has made the expansion of career and technical opportunities a major priority for the Assembly during the current legislative session.
“It is with great joy that I am standing here with these young men and women from our public education system,” Speaker Prieto said. “I could not be more proud of them.”
Each of the students was given the opportunity to address the Assembly. They thanked their families, their schools and their other supporters. They also spoke about the value of career and technical education, and said they were honored to represent New Jersey and their regions of the state in the competition.
Dozens of proud parents and family members, and district superintendents, administrators and chef/instructors watched the ceremony from the Assembly gallery.
Max Aronson reflected the feelings of all of the students, their families and their teachers in an e-mail he wrote to Speaker Prieto later that day:
“It was an honor to be recognized in front of such an esteemed group of legislators. Competing on Teen Chopped was such a phenomenal opportunity for so many reasons, but the ceremony today will leave a lasting impression of pride and satisfaction. From the moment I walked in until the moment I left, I felt welcomed and honored.”