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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Visiting Student Leaders Bond During Culinary Clash

By Noell Saunders

Student leaders from across Virginia showed off their culinary skills in a fun, interactive competition during the fourth annual Virginia Leadership Academy Conference, hosted by Old Dominion University on May 18.

About 100 campus leaders and their advisers from nine higher education institutions, including ODU, joined the Monarch Dining staff at the Kate and John R. Broderick Dining Commons for Big Blue Top Chef, an hour-long cooking competition.

Students were divided into nine teams. Similar to meal-delivery services like Blue Apron and HelloFresh, each team was given a recipe and raw ingredients to prepare a meal, using items such as tacos, stromboli, sushi, chicken stir fry, burgers and baked Rice Krispies treats.

Don Stansberry, dean of students and associate vice president for Student Engagement and Enrollment Services, said the goal is to encourage students to develop leadership skills while exploring new elements.

"Most of the students have never been in a kitchen or have worked with a chef so we want them to gain some cooking skills, learn about nutrition and, most importantly, teamwork," he said.

During the three-day Virginia Leadership Academy Conference, students participate in other activities that highlight teamwork and punctuality. Each team earns points, and the winners receive movie tickets to see any movie of their choice and a gold medal.

The Virginia Leadership Academy is sponsored by the Virginia Association of School Personnel Administrators. The academy allows newly elected campus leaders and their advisers to share ideas and solutions, and receive training and consultation from student affairs vice presidents, deans of students and invited leadership experts. The academy promotes team development, networking and synergy in planning among a cross-section of student leaders and advisers from across Virginia.

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