Culinary Internship

Keziah Bellew, a rising senior at Liberty Christian Academy, measures cinnamon into dry ingredients for pumpkin bars during a culinary internship program at Liberty University on Tuesday, June 11, 2019, in Lynchburg, VA.

Thumbs up to the organizers, staff and volunteers at the Lynchburg Freedom School, which will open its doors Monday on the campus of Randolph College. It’s been a long time in planning and preparation, but finally the dream of many is about to become a reality.

The Freedom School movement has its roots in the civil rights movement when many Southern states barred African-American children from public schools in the fight against desegregation. Many public school divisions in Virginia, for example, closed their doors rather than integrate. Freedom schools began as a free alternative school for those black children whose education was cut short by racist politicians fighting to keep schools segregated by race. The modern Freedom Schools, operated through a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., model themselves on the original schools, recreating them as summer programs to encourage literacy and student empowerment.

In Lynchburg, The Listening, a local nonprofit, has partnered with Randolph to open a Freedom School here. It’s been months in planning, and it all comes down to Monday morning. According to director Rox Cruz, all 50 spots in the inaugural Freedom School have been filled with rising sixth- through ninth-graders in local schools. And the costs? All covered by donations from folks in the community, grants and other sources. The curriculum will include everything from local history and the history of the civil rights movement to reading and conflict resolution.

Freedom Schools can be found in communities across the nation, but in Virginia, the only other program is in Norfolk. To learn more about the program, visit The Listening website,

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Thumbs up to the folks at The Sodexo Culinary Internship Program at Liberty University for hosting culinary students from high schools throughout Central Virginia for a week of intensive training in the industry.

Eight juniors and seniors from culinary arts programs at four local high schools spent the week working with professionals in the Sodexo kitchens at Liberty University, where Sodexo provides food services. The program is in its third year.

Students had to submit an application and resumes to Sodexo officials and undergo an interview before starting the program, another element recreating a real-life job experience.

What’s even greater for the participants is what happens after the program ends. Yes, they’ll receive a certificate of completion, but even more important, the students will be eligible to apply for full-time positions with Sodexo.

Congratulations to all involved!

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