High Achieving Program prepares to host Park alumnus

Members look forward to hearing guest speaker, chef

Dani Orloff and Breanna Thompson

According to the High Achieving Program adviser Peter Redmond, on April 19 the program plans to host Mario McKinney, a chef and former Park student.

Redmond said McKinney made his dream of being a chef a reality.

“His name is Mario McKinney and his senior year in my class he did a project on culinary arts. As a student here, he said, ‘I would really love to cook,’ and I said, ‘Cool, I hope you do.’ Sure enough, he followed his dream, and he went to culinary school,” Redmond said. “He is going to do a demonstration (for the students).”  

According to Redmond, McKinney stayed in Minneapolis and has worked at many local restaurants as a chef.

“He started at Target Field, were the Twins play, and he went to the Yard House, which is a restaurant at the West End, and now he is at Cooper, another restaurant in West End,” Redmond said.

Junior High Achieving Program (HAP) member Doreen Moranga said HAP focuses on helping students prepare for their futures.

“(Peter Redmond) usually has us watch clips or videos of colored people and how we are depicted, or general stuff about colored people, and then we talk about it,” Moranga said. “He (takes) us (on) trips (because) we are going to college soon, so he wants us to be out there. We’ve listened to people who are in college telling us what’s good (and) what’s bad.”

Moranga said she enjoys hearing from different speakers through HAP.

“(The speakers) really are beneficial,” Moranga said. “Last week we had a former student who used to go here (come in and speak). She currently is in a school in California. We talked to her about how her life is going and what she is going to school for and how we can be maybe in the same place she is, doing what she does in a white school.”

Redmond said the range of opportunities available to students through HAP remains his favorite aspect of being the adviser of the program.

“There’s a lot of variety from field trips to guest speakers, so I like the variety,” Redmond said. “We try to motivate and encourage students if they need help on essays, writing or anything. (HAP talks about) colleges (and) how to get into college. I make sure I show (the students) websites that will provide financial aid and things like that.”

Moranga said the welcoming atmosphere of HAP allows her to be vocal in discussions.

“(HAP) is a safe zone,” Moranga said. “There’s more people of my own background and culture, and we can talk about what’s going on and how we feel.”

Redmond said his goal as the adviser of HAP is to inspire students to succeed.

“Hopefully (I) motivate the students to stay in school (and) to do well. Motivation is the key, so hopefully that,” Redmond said. “(My goal is) that everybody passes every class.” 

Mario McKinney will be speaking and doing a demonstration for HAP members at 10:10  a. m. April 19 in room B224.