Cedar Caffeine Café creates community through hot drinks and warm smiles

4 min read1,329 views and 601 shares Posted January 6, 2020

Making connections with fellow students…

Learning real-world customer service and store management skills…

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Helping the Lebanon High School community start its day with a smile and a hot drink…

That’s what the Cedar Caffeine Café is all about!

All photos by LebTown photographer Will Trostel.

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Overall view of the café space.

Started about four years ago, the café is a mini-business run by Life Skills classrooms at Lebanon High School. Now one of a couple similar programs in the county, the coffee shop grew out of an in-school coffee delivery service for faculty and staff.

Life Skills students Trista Bordner (left) and Rose Grischott (center) utilizing the last bit of the current batch of coffee before switching to a fresh pot, with Maria Hernandez (right) providing a hand to assist.
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Now it operates as a full-service coffeeshop three days each week. The students run the show, with all proceeds going to Life Skills and Autistic Support classrooms. These proceeds have resulted in expenses-paid trips for the students to Red Robin (a chance to practice restaurant skills) as well as that highly-desirable end of year reward: A trip to Hersheypark.

Math teacher Dean Dochterman stops by the café for his daily cup-of-joe.

Though the business might be small, students get lots of experience with many real-world skills that even many adults struggle with… Taking orders, making change, keeping track of inventory, and setup/teardown are just some of the ways students get experience that will serve them down the line.

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A creamer station was also provided to patrons.

Trista, one of the student-employees, told LebTown’s correspondent that she really liked the coffee-serving experience, adding that she gets to see some of her best friends (other students and teachers) through the cafe.

Hot chocolate, iced coffee, hot coffee… there’s something for everyone at the cafe.

Ayeesha Fane prepares a drink for a waiting customer.
Hot cocoa was also available for purchase as well as iced coffee and regular coffee.

With friendship and community connection at the center of the cafe experience, life skills students also get to practice a crucial customer service skill – having meaningful exchanges without holding up the line!

The Cedar Caffeine Café is just one of the ways that the life skills students help keep community spirit alive at Lebanon High School. Spearheaded by teachers Megan Brown and Elizabeth Heckard, other new programs include visiting students in In-School Suspension to deliver lunch and chat with them and delivering lunch to faculty and staff directly to their classrooms and offices.

Life Skills students Trista Bordner (left) and Rose Grischott (center) take an order from math teacher Dean Dochterman.

Students work for the tips, with the proceeds going back to the classroom activity fund to help open up other new and fun opportunities.

It’s just one of the ways that the Life Skills students are learning to take pride in hard work and helping their community come together.

If you want to support the Life Skills program, watch out for their handmade earrings and custom keychains, made as part of the Go Cedars! Creation business, at the IU13 bazar and other craft fairs around the county.

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