Scripps Ranch High School senior Kennedy Irwin earned Student of the Year honors and teacher Kimberly Coelho was named Educator of the Year at this year’s Gold Medallion Awards hosted by the San Diego County chapter of the California Restaurant Association.
The Gold Medallion Awards recognize the achievements of both restaurant and service provider members whose commitment to excellence makes a significant difference in the industry and communities they serve.
Irwin exemplifies each of the qualities the industry looked for in their student of the year: leadership, exemplary citizenship, academic excellence and a desire to work in the hospitality industry. She moved to San Diego from Virginia her senior year, choosing to enroll at Scripps Ranch High specifically for the Culinary Arts & Management class. She was a member of the student Pro Start Culinary team for 2013 and also competed in the Teen Iron Chef competition in February 2013.
“The culinary arts and management class has not only trained me in a new skill,” Kennedy said, “but has changed my outlook on food and the food industry in general.”
That new outlook on the industry has prompted her to enroll in the Culinary Institute of America in hopes of one day working as a pastry chef.
Irwin’s Culinary Arts & Management teacher Kimberly Coelho was also honored at the event as Educator of the Year.
Coelho leads a program at Scripps Ranch High that continues to produce college-bound students, future industry leaders and has consistently finished at the top at the state ProStart competition. The program is constantly improving and impressing as a result of her expertise and efforts.
“A key ingredient of the program’s success is the classroom instructor,” said Angela Croce, program manager for the district’s College, Career and Technical Education Culinary Arts program. “Kimberly is a great role model for students and fellow teachers. She is willing to go above and beyond, come in on weekends and work extra hours to ensure the students reach their full potential.”
As part of Coelho’s award, she traveled to Chicago to meet with fellow educators of the year from various states for professional development and attended the National Restaurant Association trade show, events and mixers hosted by the group’s Educational Foundation.
Each year, the San Diego County chapter of the California Restaurant Association hosts the Gold Medallion Awards. More than 1,200 people attended the gala and auction, raising more than $160,000, a portion of which will be donated to pay for food service equipment, supplies and mentoring for the Culinary Arts programs at Morse, San Diego, Mira Mesa, Scripps Ranch, Madison and Garfield high schools.