At the Penta expo was a crowd near the culinary arts contest, named Chopped after the TV show.
Taylor Carson, a eighth grader at Bowling Green Middle School, stacked mints quicker than anyone else and won Penta Career Center's culinary arts competition on Wednesday.
But Taylor is considering attending Penta in high school because of its mechanical program, not because of its culinary arts.
"I was iffy about this place first, but now I definitely want to go here," he said while attending Penta's Eighth Grade Expo.
"People are nice here. They add excitement and add fun."
Penta, which is in Perrysburg Township, had booths set up around its cafeteria with instructors and students helping promote different programs. Most booths had interactive games to help peak middle school students' interest. The expo was on Wednesday and concludes today and was expected to have bout 2,400 eighth grade students attend from 14 of Penta's 16 area school districts, including Perrysburg Schools.
Among the interactive games was the one at the culinary arts program, where speed games were played, such as unwrapping and stacking mints. There was also a global positioning system, or GPS, program to use, a putt-putt hole for landscaping and turfgrass management, and making corsages at the floral program.
"It is an important day," Penta Superintendent Ron Matter said. "We're working with our member schools to expose students to career paths. It is never too early to think about what you want to do."
The Penta expo for eighth graders on Wednesday was a hit for the students and Penta.
Schools prepared students beforehand by trying to match up the student's interests to career programs. Northwood guidance counselor Jill Distel said her school's students were very excited about the trip.
"It is good for them to talk to Penta students that go here and interact with them," she said.
Another aspect of the expo Penta instructors enjoyed was seeing their own students take pride in the Penta programs, said Jody Germann, Penta landscape and turfgrass management instructor.
"It is nice to see students share what they know with others and teach others," he said. "They have a sense of pride and can teach something."
He said the expo is important for Penta to get a foothold in the minds of students to get them to consider Penta programs. The hands-on activities at the expo helped with that, he said.
"It is not only about helping Penta out (recruiting students), but it is also about helping our own industry," said Colton Northup, a Penta junior from Woodmore in the landscaping program.
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