HHS Culinary Arts Student and Teacher
HHS Junior Andrew Walter prepares a culinary confection for a culinary photography unit alongside instructor, Mrs. Deb Rombough

HHS's Culinary Arts & Restaurant Management Program has been named SDACTE's Innovative Program for 2021.  The program will be recognized at the Region V ACTE Leadership Conference on April 15th, along with the other state winners within Region V.  

Harrisburg High School's Hospitality & Tourism Program is under the direction of Mrs. Deb Rombough. Mrs. Rombough has developed the program from the ground up in just a few short years and felt that her work and investment in the program was something we wanted to highlight. In that time, she has secured funding and enrolled in the first two levels of NRAEF/ProStart Summer Institutes for culinary training, and will be participating in the third level this summer. She has worked alongside Dr. Michael Amoliins, Curriculum Director, to ensure that students had access to industry-grade equipment, and oversaw the recent installation of a full industry-grade culinary kitchen and instructional space that opened this past fall at Harrisburg High School. This space is state of the art and could be considered innovative for a number of reasons. First, Mrs. Rombough has been able to introduce students to advanced techniques learned in professional development simply because the equipment and facilities have allowed her to do so. She has created unique opportunities for executive chefs and culinary experts from the area to provide expertise on specific menu items, including a three-year partnership (and counting) with Chef Nicholas Skajewski – a Harrisburg Alum ('12) who was the executive chef for Carnival in Sioux Falls, before leading the nutrition program at Avera and ultimately starting his own catering business. Chef Nicholas has donated countless hours, working alongside Mrs. Rombough to ensure that the lessons being offered match experiences found in the industry. Mrs. Rombough is in the early stages of beginning a ProStart team in Harrisburg, including coaching the recent gingerbread house competition state champion. One of the most unique things Mrs. Rombough has led is a joint venture with our DECA and FCCLA clubs, offering both baked goods and frozen yogurt to our student body through our school store. This opportunity has promoted healthy snack choices for our students while also creating a very successful business venture between the career clusters and CTSOs. The group also offers baked goods to HHS staff through a program known as Fresh Case, which was also spearheaded by Mrs. Rombough. Each of these experiences has combined interactions with industry professionals and student-led programming to allow students to explore their interests in the field at an extremely high level.

In addition to the joint partnerships described above, which have significantly enhanced the collaboration within our CTE programs at HHS, Mrs. Rombough has been a dedicated member of the CTE community in South Dakota and a leader in our Hospitality and Tourism Program. She is consistently willing to present workshops, participate in professional development opportunities, contribute her expertise and insight into regional projects, and as mentioned previously has dedicated a lot of time and effort to providing industry opportunities for our students. Prior to the COVID pandemic, Mrs. Rombough arranged a partnership with Plum’s Cooking in downtown Sioux Falls that allowed her culinary students to take monthly trips to the store to participate in masterclasses with chefs from the area. The employees/managers of Plum’s offered tips and suggestions to the students, as well as allowing them to explore the store and learn more about industry-grade supplies. Students were able to translate their experiences into meaningful projects at school, and Plum’s has become a solid community partner as a result of the experience. In addition, several students from our program have found employment within the restaurant industry under the direction of several of the industry partners Mrs. Rombough has been able to develop relationships with, in particular, Chef Nicholas.

 Students participating in the Culinary Arts/Hospitality and Tourism Program at HHS have the opportunity to earn their ServSafe Certification as part of the course sequence. In addition, the culinary training they receive from Mrs. Rombough and the guest industry experts has gained a reputation that comes with the opportunity for employment. We have had students participate in field internships extending from this training, as well as full employment in the field. We are incredibly fortunate to have a number of innovative programs in the Harrisburg School District that are more than deserving of this award.