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Students serve at Newton North Tiger’s Loft

By Denebola
Published: October 2008

By Nicole Melton, Julia Lytle, and Claire Pezza

The aroma of freshly prepared food greets Newton North students as they climb the stairs to the third floor. The Tiger’s Loft, Newton North’s student-run school restaurant, has a relaxed atmosphere in which students can grab a quick snack between classes or sit down for lunch without leaving school.

In 1979, Will O’Neil opened the Tiger’s Loft for business. Today, O’Neil manages the restaurant and helps North students get involved and learn culinary skills.

O’Neil studied culinary arts at Essex Technical Institute and later received his teaching degree at Framingham State College. He works alongside Lisa McKinney, the restaurant’s head baker, and Lisa Marzilli, the teacher aid for the culinary students.

Students who want to get involved with the Tiger’s Loft participate in culinary elective classes. Freshmen take exploratory classes and learn how to work in the kitchen.

Older students learn about the management aspect of the restaurant and deal with ordering food and necessary supplies.

The students who have been working at the Tiger’s Loft for at least one year are considered “majors and are in classes of up to 40 students, as opposed to the freshman exploratory classes of up to 18 students.

Classes throughout the day are split into exploratory courses and major courses. The exploratory classes, consisting mainly of freshmen, are in the kitchen preparing food for the day during Newton North’s A, E, F, and G blocks. The majors occupy the restaurant during B,C, and D blocks.

Every afternoon, the Tiger’s Loft sells lunch, dessert, and snacks, all of which are prepared daily, to North students. The menu changes weekly, so students always have new options and a variety of different entrées.

Although the food at Tiger’s Loft is more expensive than the food in the Newton North cafeteria, many students choose to spend the extra $1.25. “More people come here than the cafeteria, North junior Derek Virgilio said.

The money made in the Tiger’s Loft is spent mostly on supplies and food orders, and the money that is left over is given to the school.

Students who work at the Tiger’s Loft rotate between three different sections.

Within the culinary section of the program, students prepare soups, specials, and hot entrées, and can also help in the deli section. Students helping in the bakeshop participate in making desserts and rolls.

Students are also given the chance to learn about restaurant management as they work in the front of the house. These students help to bus tables and run the cash registers. “It’s wicked fun, Virgilio said. “They have to cut a lot of kids because so many people apply.

The fun and relaxed spirit of the Tiger’s Loft allows students to develop culinary skills naturally and take a break from the usual stressful high school atmosphere.

Students involved at the Tiger’s Loft, however, are able to relax as they learn and practice life-long skills, experimenting in a way that makes them appreciate the art of cooking.

Many of O’Neil’s students have gone on to careers involving culinary arts.

“Some end up in professions like hotel management and event planning, O’Neil said.

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