Chillicothe High School now has a student-run café offering popular breakfast items to faculty, staff and fellow classmates.
Chillicothe High School now has a student-run café offering popular breakfast items to faculty, staff and fellow classmates. The Hornet Teacher Café – for teachers only – was opened four years ago by teacher Amanda Marsh, along with paraprofessional Debbie Shafer and the CHS Life Skills students. “I started it when I saw a need for more life skills for my students rather than the academic curriculum,” said Marsh, who has taught special education at CHS for six years. The students were not feeling successful and the academic curriculum wasn’t going to be something that would help the students transition to post high school, she said. Karie Black, the school district’s special education director at the time, was instrumental in getting a kitchen located in Marsh’s classroom to assist students in learning life skills. From this, the Hornet Teacher Café came into existence. The café operated out of the classroom and served just faculty and staff members. Students took the orders, prepared the orders and then delivered them to the teachers. Throughout the last four years, more Life Skills students were added as well as another teacher, Kari Keller. The increase in the number of Life Skills students has allowed the program to expand its business. Now that classes have resumed this week after Christmas break, the café will open for not only teachers, but for the entire student body. No longer is the café operated out of a classroom; it now operates out of a large area adjacent to the school library. The students who are working in the café are gaining life and work skills that can be utilized beyond high school, Keller stated. Additionally, the entire student body is gaining opportunities for social interaction with students they may or may not see in their classes. About seven students work in the Hornet Café. The students rotate through jobs with some jobs being behind-the-scenes as foods are prepared for the café. The café offers cappuccino, coffee, muffins, breakfast pizza, cookies, tea, and smoothies. (Kathi Barnes’ pastry class will be supplying cookies for the café to sell). Marsh, Keller and Shafer teach and facilitate Hornet Café. The students who work in café are paid through $10 punch cards that can be redeemed after work every day. The punch cards are used to buy any beverage or food item the café sells. “After work in the café is over, we sit down at our kitchen table and eat breakfast together,” Keller said. “This gives us the opportunity to learn and apply table manners, as well.” The students have a full gamut of responsibilities through the café. They read the recipes and check the pantry to build the grocery list. They go to the grocery store. They prepare the food from scratch, and they make the smoothies and coffees in the morning. When the cafe closes for the day, students are required to restock the cafe, clean the cafe, figure sales for the day, and manage inventory. Some of these responsibilities are still new for the students, but many tasks they have been doing through the café in previous years. “We are hoping that the students working in the café will learn that they enjoy having a job and helping others so that they will desire employment and independence once they graduate,” Marsh stated. Senior Thor Lawson said he enjoys making the breakfast pizza and smoothies for the Hornet Café. “This job will help me 100 percent,” he said about finding a job after graduation. Junior Sabrina Bachman enjoys the responsibility of being the café’s manager. “Being the manager is my favorite job because I get to look over the order and make sure that it is filled the right way,” she said. “I talk to the people getting food, hot drinks, and cold drinks. I like helping other student workers when it gets busy. I really like seeing the teachers and students come to the café.” Freshman Riley Hawkins says that his favorite job is “cleaning the tables and chairs.” His job allows him to work when the café is less crowded, an environment in which he feels more comfortable. As with most food service establishments, there are challenges in operating the café. Noel Santos, sophomore, said that Hornet Café “is really great, but there are a lot of people to get used to.” “I like to make the muffins, and I do think it’s nice to see people,” he said. “I also like washing dishes.” The establishment of Hornet Café took financial support. This past summer, changes were made to the library through the Virginia Wall donation. Money was raised to renovate the floors, change the cabinets, add counter space and a refrigerator as well as coffee and cappuccino machines. The coffee and cappuccino machines were donated by Hy-Vee. Hy-Vee Gas helped with setup and training on cleaning and maintaining the machines. Marsh’s husband Tim and his Materials Science Technology class at CHS made the concrete counter top and Tim refaced the cabinets. The Hornet Café project received a $4,000 grant from the Livingston County Foundation, which covered most of the remodeling expenses. Hy-Vee Gas and Chillicothe Plumbing Supply donated machines and plumbing. The Chillicothe Elks Lodge gave a $500 check. Additionally, several individuals donated funds to the Donorschoose.org page. Other individuals just offered money to help, Marsh said. One individual walked into the school office and said, “I would like to give $500 to the café effort.” Others mailed money. “We have been amazed as to how supportive this community is,” Marsh stated. Aside from student development goals, organizers hope that Hornet Café will become self-supporting. “We think it will be, but as with any business, there is risk involved,” Marsh said. The café will operate two or three days each week.