Students gain work experience in the classroom
Arts and Technology High School found an innovative way to boost a student's resume while still in the classroom. And it starts with a cup of coffee and ends with a smile.
Arrow Roast Cafe, a student-run espresso bar in the compact school's kitchen, is part of the up-and-coming culinary program at the West Linn-Wilsonville School District facility in Wilsonville.
"It just gives students a purpose to be at school," said Kate Gaede, learning specialist and culinary teacher. "Sometimes, students are not always inclined to want to be at school so it encourages them to be here more. It gives them confidence, ownership and independence."
The culinary program started five years ago when Gaede wanted to help a struggling student find a way to communicate with people.
"Food is a great way to do it so I said, 'OK, lets start making crepes for people in school' so the next quarter happened and I said, 'Well, would you want to do a culinary class?' And he agreed," Gaede said. "I added a couple students to it and we just started cooking. It was a way for him to interact with his peers, so it grew from there."
When she received extra funds from a Youth Transition Program grant a couple years ago, Gaede decided to purchase an espresso machine and get the espresso bar up and running.
The students were all over it.
From painting the mural outside of the kitchen to painting and decorating the walls inside, to naming the espresso bar, students wanted to give it the essence of a real cafe.
The "Arrow" part of the name — a symbol the school has adopted — represents students being set back in their education and drawing a bow and arrow back, and when the arrow is released, it represents the students shooting forward and advancing in their education once they start at Art Tech. And the roast portion of the name? That combination was the contest winner.
Currently there are seven students in the culinary class and two of them run the espresso machine — one students makes the coffee, while the other takes orders from different classrooms.
"It's like an internship," said Gaede, adding that the students can't actually sell the coffee since they do not have an industrial-grade dishwasher. "I wanted to give students the opportunity to work on transferable skills — transition skills — into the real workforce area and customer service."
While in the culinary class, students learn to cook various meals, do different knife cuts and sanitation. The food they prepare is mainly eaten by the cooks — except for the community meals that happen twice a year.
Josh Wilson, 17, head chef in the kitchen, helps Jared Rayburn, 17, head barista, with recipes and cooks sweet bread, biscotti and other food to offer with coffee two days a week.
Rayburn said he likes serving coffee because it has helped him learn to communicate with people in a professional way.
"I had a hard time interacting with people I didn't know," Rayburn said. "I now feel ready to apply for a job because I've learned to follow directions, work with people and stay respectful in a job setting."
Ultimately, Gaede said she wants to partner with local businesses for food donations.
"That would be amazing because it really is offering students a window into what's possible," said Gaede. "(For) students who think school is all about math and there's no application for it, here they can figure out they have to measure and they have to do all sorts of stuff with math. It's real life; it's applicable all of a sudden."