Something's Brewing at South Park High School

Something's Brewing at South Park High School
Posted on 10/13/2021
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A new partnership is providing new opportunities for students at South Park High School. And it is bringing one of our area’s favorite coffee retailers to the school.

Since 2017, the South Perk Cafe has been part of the special education department’s vocational programming at South Park High School. The cafe, located in the cafeteria, is staffed and operated by high school students, giving them valuable retail and customer service experience. In 2019, the redesigned cafe opened with a new counter and lounge area thanks to an Eagle Scout project by high school student Zack Huwalt. Now, the South Perk Cafe is an officially licensed Coffee Tree Roasters location, offering the coffee and specialty drinks customers enjoy at Coffee Tree’s five Pittsburgh-area locations. 

For months, district and high school administrators and high school teacher Mrs. Alexandra Youssef met with the owner and employees from Coffee Tree Roasters about the retailer’s Brewing Success program. The initiative brings Coffee Tree Roasters retail locations to area high schools for job training and employment skill-building. The partnership with Coffee Tree Roasters allowed the district to purchase equipment that can be found at Coffee Tree Roasters and coffee shops throughout the area. The Brewing Success program also connects South Park High School with training and support from Coffee Tree Roasters employees. Over the past few weeks, students and staff have learned how to operate the machines and the point-of-sale system from employees who use it every day.

Last week, the South Perk Cafe offered free samples to students and staff of the delicious drinks to be featured at the cafe. When the cafe officially reopens later this month, it will feature a rotating menu of hot and cold drinks including coffee, smoothies, cappuccinos, mochas, lemonade, cold brews, hot chocolate, and frappuccino. High school students, with the help of high school staff, including paraprofessional and cafe manager Mrs. Kathy Coologhan, will make and serve the drinks and work the cash register.  The cafe will be open from first period through all lunches, and students and staff can purchase a drink with cash or credit card. 

The reimagined South Perk Cafe is also giving real-world experience to Mrs. Hecht’s business students. Mrs. Hecht’s students will develop marketing materials, including flyers and brochures.

Mrs. Youssef said this new chapter at the South Perk Cafe is especially exciting because of the new doors it will open for her students. With the new equipment and technology, Mrs. Youssef’s students will learn new skills that can translate to jobs at the retailer’s locations or warehouse.

In the future, Mrs. Youssef hopes to launch mobile ordering for district staff and, eventually, for members of the general public.

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