In the course of a long military career, CW2 Bill Michitsch, 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command G-4 food service technical adviser, has visited 28 countries and 43 states. Despite the glitz and glamour of being a world traveler, however, a chance to share his culinary experiences with Ramstein Middle School students was one adventure he wouldn’t pass up for other exotic locations.
“My best times in the Army were in Haiti (providing earthquake relief in 2010) and when I get to do this,” said Michitsch, a native of Tivoli (Red Hook), N.Y.
The May 17 visit was facilitated by Sequinn Lee, a teacher at RMS who teaches the school’s sixth-grade Advancement via Individual Determination college preparatory program. With three students from the class contemplating future careers in food service, Lee was grateful for the first-hand experiences Michitsch was able to share with her prospective chefs and the other students.
“To see someone with CW2 Michitsch’s experience and expertise is not only inspirational, but shows that with hard work and determination they can accomplish anything they want to,” Lee said.
AVID is a language arts-based curriculum with emphasis on the writing process and writing as a tool of learning and is coordinated at RMS by Jonathan Petrick, who also teaches seventh and eighth-grade AVID classes.
In addition to inquiry and collaboration, students also learn academic survival skills, time management, note taking and improved study habits, among other things. Students enjoyed listening to the many anecdotes Michitsch shared about his food service career, which also contained a healthy dose of instruction and reminders.
“Everybody loves food, needs food and wants food,” he said, all the while stressing proper temperatures, hygiene and creativity in the culinary arts.
Students were treated to demonstrations in attractively garnishing fruits and vegetables for the dinner table. With active participation by the students, bananas, melons, radishes and apples were transformed into fruit cups and other objects that all students were able to sample.
“I love cooking, and this just showed me that I can do more things with food and experiment,” said Hayden Patton, a sixth-grader in the AVID class contemplating a food service career.
Many students asked Michitsch questions during the class on topics ranging from career choices, working in the food industry and how Army cooking differs from the civilian market. Regardless of the challenges faced in any future endeavor or career, Michitsch urged the students to maintain a positive, never-quit attitude.
“Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it,” Michitsch said.
Lee agreed, emphasizing the continued importance of AVID and related programs in helping to teach students how to be more critical, independent thinkers, whether they follow a career in food service or not.
“It’s all about problem solving and learning to use what you have up here,” Lee said.