Potential coffee shop stirs up excitement

There could potentially be another big change coming to the students of Cedar Falls High School, but this one’s easy to swallow. Some teachers and staff are seriously considering creating a CFHS coffee shop.

With a growing number of students drinking coffee or coffee-like drinks in the morning, the school decided to make the students’ lives easier by having a cafe inside of the school itself.

English teacher Matthew Klemesrud was one of the main faculty involved in planning the coffee shop.

“The intent was actually never about getting a coffee shop in the school. Communication in Life is a semester-long English credit with an evolving curriculum.  This year, I wanted to add more problem-solving opportunities in class and reasoned that I would be willing to give up to one day per week in class to address a student-driven issue. They would be applying the English skills of reading, researching, discussing, writing and presenting, and I thought it could improve student motivation and give them an opportunity to leave their mark on the school in a positive way.  Students offered 18 potential ‘problems’ in first hour and about the same number in our fifth hour section.  We voted in each section, and — to my surprise — the coffee shop concept was a big issue to our first hour students. I don’t think we realized at that time the potential impact of their efforts,” Klemesrud said.

The coffee shop was not only planned by students, either. There were a number of teachers and staff involved in the early planning of the coffee shop.

“Our first hour Communication in Life students started it. (Resource teacher Julie) Stoffer and I have helped them and guided them to other sources. (Principal Rich) Powers has been instrumental, and (resource teacher Jennifer) Juhl has represented the special education department for potential work release opportunities for students.  (Business teachers Mike) Hansel, (Matt) Flaherty and (Julie) Cuvelier have been contacted for potential opportunities with the accounting, entrepreneurship and marketing classes.  (Media specialists Kim) Traw and (Kristi) Anhalt have been helpful in several ways.  Other faculty have helped us with ideas, too.  (Associate Teresa) Mayfield also helped,” Klemesrud said.

The school is looking into three possible locations for the coffee shop, or “Cafe Diem,” as they are calling it. There are two short term locations and one potential long term location. The two short term locations are the concessions stand near the gym entrance and the ala carte room in the cafeteria along with the unused room next to it. The long term location could be the library lab, some of the offices and the library computer area. The library lab and computer area will no longer be needed with the new addition of Chromebooks to the high school.

Another issue that will need to be tackled is the possibility of a partnership with one of the numerous coffee shops in Cedar Falls. These coffee shops include Starbucks, Cup of Joe, Sidecar Coffee and Barn Happy, among others.

Powers said the student initiative is key in the collaborative planning and operation of the potential coffee shop.

“If we get a coffee shop, we would like it to be student run with some adult supervision,” Powers said. “We are also looking at partnering up with a local business and have them involved as well.”

To help resolve some of these issues, the students in first hour Communication in Life put out a survey on the CFHS website that asked questions such as how many times one drinks coffee and what students would purchase if there was a coffee shop in the high school.

The coffee shop still has a long way to go to become a reality, though.

“Frankly, Dr. Powers and people up the stream need to discuss some issues.  That’s where we are right now in the process.  As a class, we’ll proceed after we hear from him,” Klemesrud said.

The replies to the survey have been strongly in favor of having a coffee shop that will also sell other beverages, as shown in a section where students and staff could write comments.

Sophomore Jacob Watters, just like many other CFHS students, is excited by the prospective coffee shop.

“I was a little speculative at first, but the idea has grown on me since I had first heard about it from my friend Brennan Brimeyer,” Watters said. “Knowing that you can get smoothies or hot chocolate, I am now all on board for a coffee shop in the school.”

If the coffee shop becomes a reality, however, it may not take as long as many people may expect to start selling drinks.

“We’re exploring three different locations, but we want to start small and see how it will be received before we go all out. A possible scenario would be using the concession stand within the next month to get started,” Klemesrud said.

Expanding on that, Powers also said he thinks that the shop would start small and then begin to expand.

“We may see the beginnings of a coffee shop sometime next semester. It would be on a smaller scale to start with, but we will be looking to expand into something larger,” Powers said.

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