The Chillicothe High School Hornet Teachers Cafe, which was opened a few years ago by students in the school's Life Skills class, is expanding.

UPDATE: This project became fully funded by noon Wednesday. “I am so grateful for your generous support," teacher Amanda Marsh tells those who donated. “My kiddos are going to gain so much from the experience you have helped to provide. CHS library will be a fun place for all to enjoy a book and a cup of coffee. I am overwhelmed by the support in and around our community."

The Chillicothe High School Hornet Teachers Cafe, which was opened a few years ago by students in the school’s Life Skills class, is expanding. This fall, the students will open Chillicothe High School Hornet Cafe Coffee Shop to both teachers and students on a daily basis. The teachers cafe has operated at the school for four years with students taking teachers’ orders of muffins, smoothies and coffee, making those items, and delivering them to the teachers twice a week. The CHS Hornet Cafe will be located in the school library and the employees will be students in the school’s Life Skills class. The purpose is to introduce much-needed life and work skills to the workers. Life Skills teachers feel that if they provide a rich work experience with specific job and language training the students will be better prepared to find employment following high school. “Ultimately, we want them to want to work,” said Amanda Marsh, Life Skills teacher, adding that, sometimes, students might not see the need to work. “In our situation, if they want to work and have that desire, they will,” Marsh said. “They will get up and go to a job every day, and they will meet friends, and they will have something in their life that is meaningful.” New flooring and furniture are the main costs to reconstruct the library to fit the needs of a coffee shop. The goal is to raise $10,000 to establish the cafe, and funds are being raised through a variety of efforts. The project got a substantial boost on Tuesday when representatives of the Livingston County Community Foundation presented students with a $4,000 check for the Hornet Cafe. A classroom request has been established to make sure the students have the materials they need to succeed. CHS Hornet Cafe is the name of the project. Donations made between now and Monday, May 22, will be doubled, thanks to Donors are asked to enter the code LIFTOFF during checkout and donations will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $50. District and special education funds will cover the remainder of the total $10,000 budget. Once in operation, the facility will be self-supporting by the sale of the coffee and other products. Marsh and Kari Keller, who also teaches the Life Skills class, have witnessed growth among the students through the Hornet Teachers Cafe. They read recipes and make muffins, coffee and smoothies. “At first, it was kind of stressful for them and they were shy about it, but once they started doing those things they had confidence,” Keller said. “It’s neat to see them gain the confidence like that.” The Hornet Cafe will also further integrate the Life Skills students with the rest of the student body. When they were much younger, they spent most of the school day away from their peers. “Now, they are with their peers and have that social interaction,” Hardy said. “These kids recognize them and call them by name. Seeing them in the coffee shop, I think, they are going to get more of that and feel more a part of CHS.” Interacting with their peers will also help prepare the students for transitioning into the post-high school environment. The coffee shop will also provide a benefit other CHS students, many of whom do not take advantage of the library unless it is required for a class. The coffee shop would encourage them to visit the library to have a snack and, perhaps, stay to read or study, organizers say. Funds for the Livingston County Community Foundation grant come from the Noble Dean Smith Trust, which is directed half to Chillicothe High School and half to Hedrick Medical Center. The Livingston County Community Foundation was organized in 1998 as a recommendation of the Long-Range Planning Committee of the Chillicothe Chamber of Commerce to set up a permanent endowment to grant funds to other Livingston County non-profit (501c3) organizations to fulfill their objectives. The major areas of interest are economic development, community and rural redevelopment, education, community health nd welfare, youth, and arts and humanities. Since its organization, the foundation has made more than 80 grants totaling more than $500,000, all benefiting non-profits in Livingston County. To obtain more information about the Livingston County Community Foundation, contact Ron Wilder at 646-0502, email or write to P.O. Box 405, Chillicothe MO 64601.