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Students earn Hospitality & Tourism certifications

RESERVE — The Hospitality and Tourism class at East St. John High School delivers life lessons applicable to any career field. While studying hospitality, management and the hotel industry, students learn the value of customer service and problem-solving strategies.

ESJ students Jy’vion Curley, Trinity Jacques, Elisha Mitchell, Ariel Lightell, Anaiyah Piper, Tonnae Robinson, Anjae Morgan and Estifini Zunin received certifications in Hospitality and Tourism Management from the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute during a celebration last week in the Pro-start classroom.

Juniors who completed the Level I class will advance to Hospitality & Tourism II for their senior year, where they will have the opportunity to earn additional certifications.

Two students will additionally have the opportunity to intern at all four QHotels locations in LaPlace to gain real-world experience, according to teachers Keanna Theriot and Avis Lightfoot.

Students in the Level I class explored each sector of the hospitality and tourism industry, including entertainment, hotel and lodging, travel, and food and beverage. Under the direction of Chef Lightfoot, students prepared and served a phenomenal meal consisting of gumbo, potato salad, green beans, baked chicken, rice dressing, cake and bread pudding for last week’s celebration.

Trinity Jacques and Anjae Morgan were among the students who received certifications.

Trinity said one of the core lessons she is taking from the class is “RAVE” – respect and value everyone.

“When I first got into the class, I didn’t know if it would really be an industry that I was interested in, but after getting certified, I realized this could be a fallback industry for me. I want to be a performer and entertainer, and that kind of does go hand in hand with the hospitality and tourism industry as part of the entertainment sector,” Trinity said. “I could see myself going from being an entertainer to management or even being a trip advisor. These skills of respecting and valuing everyone don’t end with hospitality. It teaches you to be that way in life when interacting with people in general.”

Anjae agreed that hospitality and tourism teaches effective communication skills that are applicable to any interaction. She can see herself pursuing a career in travel or management.

“It was a very amazing class. I was customer service certified, but this has opened up a whole new door to learning new things,” Anjae said. “I like the way these teachers teach. I’m so blessed to have them as my teachers. They made sure we understood it. If I can recommend this class to someone, I definitely, 100% will.”

One class assignment included staying within a budget while raising customer ratings on a hotel simulator, while another activity taught students the elements of a family style restaurant versus a fine dining restaurant. The culminating activity in the class saw students prepare a trip using real research and landmarks. They were challenged to stay within a reasonable budget for their hypothetical clients.

“If I could search and find something cheaper than what they came up with, they wouldn’t get as good of a grade,” Theriot said.

East St. John Principal David Lewis told students the skills they are learning hold value in the community and in the local economy as Louisiana rebounds from the COVID-19 crisis.

“Hospitality and tourism are on a decline due to the pandemic. It’s something that’s important to Louisiana culture, to our state and to our region. What you are doing is something special, and it’s going to enhance your school and also prepare you for employment opportunities to make sure Louisiana grows and that we come back to a new normal,” Lewis said.