• ashley

    Life skills students open café to help learn on-the-job skills, raise money for program

    By Brit Milazzo
    bmilazzo@basd.net
    Public relations, BASD

    Life Skills Café reopened its doors on Jan. 12 as a coffee shop, and high school Life Skills teacher Rachael Davis said it was a huge success.

    The annual class initiative allowed senior Miranda Fleck and juniors Ashley Harter, Micah Heckathorne and Adam Marchini to learn and use skills one would see at a professional café. Davis said each student was assigned a job based on the abilities and skills they developed during the years.

    “Each job is modified and adapted to better suit those individuals and to ensure their success,” Davis said. “We had to completely rethink the café from the previous year to better suit the abilities of the students we have this year.”

    Fleck was a barista who added the flavoring to coffees. She had to know what size was ordered to determine how many pumps to put in each cup. Marchini was the barista who selected the correct coffee cup size, as requested; filled the cup with coffee; and then returned it to the customer. Together, the two worked with a lot of orders!

  • Harter was the cashier who took customer order slips, totaled their bill and then gave them change, if necessary. Her phrase "no, thank you," with a quick pause after the “no” and a heavy emphasis on the “thank you,” was a hit with the customers. Heckathorne, called the class’s “social butterfly,” was the greeter who used his Augmentative and Alternative Communication device to greet customers and direct them to fill out order slips that would go to Harter upon entering the classroom.

    Earlier in the year, a menu was sent to high school faculty and staff who wanted to order breakfast items and help support the program. Those who participated filled out their order form and presented it to the students upon arrival to the café.

    Students prepared sausage, egg and cheese English muffin breakfast sandwiches; cinnamon coffee cake; and jumbo blueberry muffins. The café had more than 30 customers and made more than $100, which goes toward helping fund future field trips.

    “The café requires planning, budgeting, grocery shopping, cooking and baking skills, as well as strong communication skills,” Davis said. “This whole process is a great way to target these various skills, and the students really enjoy doing it.”

    All the students participate in grocery shopping, which they use the money raised through the café to buy items. They are given individual grocery lists and are responsible for purchases — some have a list that includes specific brands, sizes and prices; others, Davis said, have a grocery list that required them to find items based on pictures. 

    All students follow proper hygiene protocols such as using hair nets, gloves and aprons. Students also practice independent living skills such as cleaning table tops and dishes, washing hands, and making sure their clothes are clean.

    *Davis contributed to this report