Culinary students at Weaver High School presented this spread Wednesday night, as they welcomed parents and community members to a lively PTO meeting.
But for Barbara Alleyne, a 1947 graduate of Weaver, the culinary arts program at Weaver prompted concern about the school's direction.
"Culinary arts was the kind of thing that a guidance counselor would put African American students in," Alleyne said during a long public forum on the school's future under Superintendent Steven J. Adamowski's district-wide reform plan.
Alleyne said removing programs such as business or nursing (which went to Hartford Public High School as an independent academy) and programs like cooking at Weaver can make students feel like second-class citizens.
"What you're telling us is maybe there's something wrong with the students here," Alleyne said.
That worry was a theme at the meeting, where Adamowski answered questions from several concerned people. About 100 people showed up, and their issues ranged from the depleted sports programs to the aging building's condition.
On a lot of topics, Adamowski said he was on the same page as the parents. "We agree the entire school needs renovation," Adamowski said. "We have to do at this school what we did at Sport and Medical Sciences and Pathways to Technology."
But parents were upset about the effects of the reform plan on the school community. (Read about the district's plans here.) For example, the ninth grade academy lost its guidance counselor this year due to a shift in enrollment, and under reform plans, the school will be split into separate academies, which worries people who don't want the school to be closed.
"If you break up Weaver, it won't be Weaver anymore," said 10th-grader Santane Angus. "Taking Weaver is like taking a part of Hartford's heritage."
Angus said she gets the impression that Adamowski doesn't care about the actual students in Hartford schools.
"I spend my every working hour to improve this," Adamowski responded. "I wish we could move faster in a way that would enfranchise every student immediately. We're moving as fast as we can."