Students learn life, business skills through coffee sales

Teacher Erin Marshall buys coffee from a student operating the Horace Good Middle School coffee cart recently.

By SCOTT AUST, FCEDC Director of Communications

When asked how long she has been working to prepare the coffee carts at Horace Good Middle School, Camilla, an eighth-grader, said, “For a thousand years!”

She added that preparing coffee and snacks is a fun thing to do and that her favorite coffee is the raspberry chocolate.

For the past couple of years, students at Horace Good and at Garden City High School’s Buffalo Coffee Shop have been operating their own businesses and learning some life skills to boot.

Students and staff help out during a recent fundraiser at the Buffalo Coffee Shop at Garden City High School.

Paul Lappin, GCHS Life Skills and assistant wrestling coach, said this is the second school year for the Buffalo Coffee Shop. Lappin said the inspiration for it came after a wrestling trip to a tournament in Allen, Texas, a school with 6,000 students where Lappin saw a full scale coffee shop.

“I thought, ‘Man, that’s a way to make some money and it’s cool for the school.’ So when I took this over, we grew it. We make coffee deliveries every day, and make 16 trays of cereal bars every day that we sell to the kids.

The coffee shop offers coffee, hot chocolate, water, eight different flavors of homemade cereal bars, goldfish crackers and fruit snacks. It usually operates from the start of school until lunch time.

“I have about 15 that operate it, and then student council jumps in and helps us every now and then when we do big days,” he said.

Following the high school’s lead, the Horace Good Middle School coffee carts started in January 2017. HGMS teacher Lori Hays said Principal Brad Springston thought it sounded like a good idea.

“He’s a big coffee drinker,” Hays said with a chuckle. “I didn’t drink coffee at all until now, for what that’s worth.”

Courtney Morris, eighth grade English teacher, makes a selection from the Horace Good coffee cart.

Students along with Hays and two para-professionals start preparing the carts in the morning before first period and then students push the carts from classroom to classroom filling orders until about mid-morning. Individual teachers decide whether their kids can access the carts with some using it as a reward or a privilege.

Hays said the most popular coffee is Starbuck’s vanilla, but they look for variety in the types of coffee offered. For instance, Hays picked up a bag of Sporting KC coffee while in Kansas City.

They also offer ice tea, cocoa, and two days per week they make frozen drinks. Students also sell a variety of snacks, such as brownies, rice krispie treats, cookies, cheese, and fresh fruit.

Money raised is turned back in for various classroom activities, but the coffee carts also are a good opportunity for the students to learn life skills.

“My goal is for these kids to be as independent as possible as adults. So we really push being able to do things on their own,” Hays said.

Lappin said the Buffalo Coffee Shop set a goal this year to raise $10,000 for charities. Last year, the shop gave away $5,000 to various entities. They have given money to the United Way in the past, and prefer to give to causes such as a recent fundraiser for Madison Smith, a GCHS sophomore diagnosed with leukemia.

Julian Morales, a ninth-grader, works nearly every day at the Buffalo Coffee Shop and enjoys his work. It’s been a learning experience for me, and he can tell anybody who asks the ins and outs of making rice krispie treats.

“It’s pretty much the activity I like (in the shop), and cooking rice krispies, making hot chocolate, and getting the coffee, and pretty much helping the school,” he said.

Erin Marshall, an eighth grade English teacher at Horace Good, likes the interaction the carts create between students.

“It’s been fantastic. I think it provides them a great opportunity to have to talk to people,” she said. “For me, it’s been a great service. It’s one less thing I have to do before I leave the house in the morning. It’s more affordable than stopping somewhere along the way, and it’s faster. It comes right to my door.”

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