Get’It While It’s Hot!November 6, 2010
By Edward Kim
There aren’t many classes in high school that teach students terms like “shot in the eye,” “make a GG,” and “turn em over!” But at Clarke Central High School, students taking Family and Consumer Science courses are given the opportunity to learn phrases such as these in order to help run CCHS Steam, a student run coffee shop located in the school’s library.
Between 7:45 and 8:20 a.m., teachers and students alike can be seen standing in line to get their hands on lattes, peppermint cocoa, or Steam’s most popular item, the Glazier Glad (their version of Starbucks’ frappuccino). With prices ranging from $1 to $3, students are able to get their caffeine fix every morning without hurting their wallets.
Steam opened its doors in March with a small and simple menu of coffee offered in two flavors. Since then, its menu has grown to offer new items, such as ice coffees and even new coffee flavors like vanilla bean and caramel with an bigger menu still in the works.
Steam also offers much more to its customers then a convenient place to get a cup of coffee in the morning. Steam offers students a place for students to finish their homework, read a book or a magazine, and meet friends to talk and gossip before the grind of the school day begins.
“In the mornings we have a lot of students who like to come and gather [at the library],” said Dorothy Burwell, a Media Center Assistant. “We hope that [Steam] makes the media center a more comfortable place for our students to gather, to read magazines, to visit with each other and to talk about the books they read.”
Despite its success, the idea for Steam was a long time coming. Vera Wilson Giles, a Food Science and Nutrition Wellness teacher, and Carolyn Jackson, a Family and Consumer Science teacher at Clarke Central High School were approached about the idea of opening Steam two years ago with the renovation of the school’s new library.
“[The school’s] whole idea was to have a sort of a place for kids to come get coffee, they could get on their laptops, and maybe have their breakfast in here,” Giles said.
“We wanted something to resemble a Barnes & Nobles,” Jackson said. “We wanted [the students] to feel like this was the right environment for them to come and sit down and read and enjoy reading.”
Burwell believes that Steam has not only been able to offer students a place to hangout in the mornings but she has also seen an increase in students taking advantage of the media center resources.
“We think we have more students who are not regulars coming in and then finding things once they are here that they would like to read,” Burwell said. “I am not going to say [that there has been] more than maybe a 5 percent increase. But that increase is from those students who are less likely to come in to begin with.”
“We just enjoy having a full crowd here in the coffee shop and some of those students will actually lay their coffees aside and come and look and browse our books and magazines and we are real pleased about that,” Burwell said.
For the students working at Steam, they are learning a lot more then just how to make a cup of coffee.
“Entrepreneurship is one of our Georgia Performance Standards and we wanted to incorporate that into our classes” Jackson said. “We could really work with the kids and [we could] teach them customer service and how to make coffee drinks.”
The Georgia Standards website, which is run by the Georgia Department of Education, defines Georgia Performance Standards as “work that demonstrates achievement of the standards, enabling a teacher to know “how good is good enough.” The performance standards isolate and identify the skills needed to use the knowledge and skills to problem-solve, reason, communicate, and make connections with other information.”
Both teachers agree that by incorporating the Georgia Performance Standards into Steam, the student employees have gained valuable skills that will help them be more employable to businesses. Skills that they hope will transfer over to the real world after the students graduate. Skills that are fist taught in the classroom.
Before students are allowed to work at Steam, they must first go through one of the food classes taught by Giles and Jackson. The classroom is where the students are taught teamwork, work ethic and what it means to be a good employee.
Some students have already seen some of the benefits that working at Steam has brought them.
“Well now when I fill out an application for a job I can say [that] I have job experience which is great,” said Arisbeida Delgado, a 17-year-old senior and student manager at CCHS Steam. “I have tried to get a job at Java Hut but they are not hiring right now however, since I have job experience the manager said he would have me in mind if he [needed] someone in the future.”
But there is some pressure put on the students to make Steam a good business as the success or failure of Steam rides on the students’ ability to be responsible and get the job done.
The students have to arrive at work by 7 a.m. every school day in order to prepare for the craziness of the morning rush. Once the doors open the students are responsible for working the register, being a barista, cleaning, and maintaining Steam.
To help things run more smoothly, Steam also has two student co-managers that take on a much bigger responsibility.
“Their job is payroll. Their job is to make sure that the register is counted, that all the money is counted, and the proper paperwork is filled out,” Giles said. “There are just certain standards and guidelines that [they] have to do everyday because our books get audited just like any other club or organization.”
But for most of the student employees, working at a coffee shop has been a fun and different experience.
“The [students] love the terms like shot in the eye, what’s that, and espresso,” Jackson said. They just love the different terms and how they can make these different drinks now.”
“Well I actually enjoy making all the drinks and how crazy it gets when there are a lot of customers. I also enjoy it because I like the people who I work with,” Delgado said. “I love making the GGs.”
Even though the students don’t get a paycheck at the end of the week, they do get to see the benefits of all their hard work.
“[The money] goes right back into Steam,” Giles said. “The money gets recycled. It buys our supplies [and] it buys whatever new equipment we need.”
But the job experience and a taste of the real world that working at Steam brings is also important to Delgado.
“Even though I don’t get paid now I know what having a job is like,” Delgado said. “Since I am the manager I also know responsibility and in the past I have had to tell Mrs. Giles if there are problems with the workers which isn’t very fun.”
With its early success, Steam is already looking into renovating its current facilities and equipment. Giles expects to buy a bigger refrigerator and bigger menu boards by the middle of October in order to possibly start offering new menu items such as muffins and scones. But she also expects to get a much more visible upgrade to Steam.
“We want to get a bigger sign that says “Steam,” something that glows and blinks and all that type of things!”
The students and teachers at Clarke Central don’t have to go far to get their caffeine treats every morning. Steam looks like and feels like any other coffee shop located in Athens. It provides a place for students to relax and not worry about a thing. That is until the bell rings, which means that they are now late for class.