BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Wenonah High’s Hospitality and Tourism Academy won a prestigious award heading into the new school year. Administrators say their instruction will continue while Birmingham City Schools offer remote learning when schools open September 8.
For the first time in 20 years the National Academy Foundation held its annual conference online, but it provided a big moment for Wenonah High School awarding the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism its highest level of achievement, the Sanford I. Weill Award for Excellence.
Mr. Weill is the Chairman and Founder of NAF and is a renowned global philanthropist. NAF is a national network of education, business, and community leaders who work together to ensure high school students are college, career, and future ready.
The Conference Chairman said it was a tough competition but when it came down to the two finalists Wenonah beat out North Miami High’s Health Sciences Academy.
The NAF says "This prestigious award recognizes a select number of NAF academies exhibiting the highest standards for public-private partnerships for the benefit of students. This honor was established in 2013 on the occasion of Mr. Weill's 80th birthday and is awarded annually to one exceptional NAF academy."
Wenonah High rising senior Jamari Collier says, “I feel like the academy has given me and also the other students the amazing experiences to know we are industry professionals and during that time it’s helped me connect to local chefs, and they are connecting me to other groups to network to other people.”
Collier says now he has a dream of learning from master chefs in Italy.
Principal Dr. Willie Goldsmith says it's for that reason the program is so important.
Goldsmith says, “I know that it gives students an ability to dream beyond the borders of the community.”
Coordinator Angela Smith says the key to the program’s success is partnerships. She says, “Our students are required through the national academy foundation to perform an internship with pay and we have the luxury of partnering with organizations to come in and either during school, after school, weekends and work, and gets hands on experience.”
NAF serves nearly 1,000 students in Birmingham City Schools, including other academy themes: Finance, Information Technology, Health Sciences, and Engineering.