PHILADELPHIA – Today, Mayor Jim Kenney and Superintendent Dr. William R. Hite joined high school culinary arts students at the Free Library’s Culinary Literacy Center for a cooking activity inspired by the students’ recent 10-day trip to Florence, Italy where the students studied culinary arts and visited historic sites.

The students represented all four of the high schools which are City-designated Community Schools: George Washington High School, Kensington Health Sciences Academy, Murrell Dobbins CTE High School, and South Philadelphia High School. Nineteen students traveled with chaperones to Florence for ten days in October, and took cooking classes alongside Italian peers who will visit Philadelphia in the spring.

“I had a great time during the trip to Florence,” said Jada Myers, a student at South Philadelphia High School. “It is awesome that I can say I’ve had this experience and was able to explore a new culture. This trip opened my eyes and taught me new things about cooking and cuisine. It made me realize there’s so much to learn about different countries and how others live.”Today, students showed Mayor Kenney and Dr. Hite how to make fresh pasta using the skills they gained at the Istituto Aurelio Saffi, a hospitality and culinary arts high school in Florence.

“We’re incredibly grateful that our students were given this wonderful opportunity,” said Mayor Kenney. “Experiences like this trip show our students that the world is their classroom, inspiring them to uncover new interests and further their passions.”

“We are excited that our students have had this invaluable opportunity to learn and travel throughout Italy, and are thankful to the organizations that made the trip a reality,” said Superintendent Hite. “Our students were able to participate in hands-on learning overseas and to grow academically and culturally in such a unique way. This experience is something they won’t soon forget.”

Florence was selected as a destination because it is one of Philadelphia’s “Sister Cities.” In addition to attending classes about Tuscan cuisine, olive oil, and pastry-making, the students visited an organic farm and toured the cities of Pisa and Siena.

The trip was made possible through a partnership with Citizen Diplomacy International, and with support from Wells Fargo, Women’s Culinary Guild in Philadelphia, The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, Career Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), and individual donors.

Community Schools are a collaboration between the School District of Philadelphia, the City of Philadelphia, and community partners. The Mayor’s Office of Education launched the Community Schools initiative to strengthen school communities by improving access to programs, services and supports for the children and families of Philadelphia.