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Northmen News

The student news site of Oak Park High School

Northmen News

The student news site of Oak Park High School

Northmen News

Students Run Their Own Coffee Business

Nestled into the corner of the Clemens Learning Center is a bustling small business; the employees are only 17 or 18 years old. What may sound like an impending disaster to some is actually a student-run coffee shop sponsored by the NKC School District.

Class Act Coffee is a new work-study program available to upperclassmen across all four schools. Students can apply through a quick survey where they are later vetted.

“[The goal] is to provide students with hands-on real-world experiences to allow them to gain knowledge and skills that prepares them for the future,” business teacher Zachary Johnson said.

Johnson is the sponsor, manager, and teacher of the shop. With his experience teaching business classes for the district, he fit the position well. The class is a half-day, off campus, work-study program for students. Johnson manages while students make the decisions.

“They are given the opportunity to run a business and be involved in decision making while still having a safety net,” Johnson said.

Oak Park senior Elias Alavez has been heavily involved with the creation and promotion of Class Act Coffee. He is one of many students working as an employee for the shop.

It’s not uncommon to see him running around town to fetch artwork or other things to put the finishing touches on the coffee shop. Everyone takes on a role for the shop, based on their own skills and interests.

“People like to specialize in their own things, some people are better with numbers. They’ll do more financial things. I do like the outreach stuff,” Alavez said. “No textbooks or research can get you that experience of actually doing things.”

Despite having their own roles, most students do the hands on work of fulfilling orders as a barista. Students take orders and then use the commercial grade equipment to make it. Class Act Coffee uses Broadway Café beans, a larger, more established shop in downtown Kansas City. 

The district will meet or deny requests from Class Act Coffee for new equipment or more materials on a case-by-case basis. An initial pool of $5000 was given to the shop for decor and furniture. Alavez considers the shop to be a bit different from a typical coffee shop, as it has a bit of a cleaner, more modern vibe.

“It’s very progressive,” Alavez said, describing the shop as a sort of showcase for more than just coffee.

The shop will feature artwork and other projects from around the district. Johnson also mentioned there will be an opportunity for student organizations to be the featured group for two weeks where all donations will be given back to said organization.

Class Act Coffee had a soft open in mid-December, and will have a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday, Feb. 9 at 9:30 a.m. Anyone is welcome to celebrate the grand opening with a cup of coffee.

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About the Contributor
Jacob Eischen, design editor, writer

Jacob Eischen is 17 years old and a junior. He has been involved with Oak Park journalism since his freshman year, currently serving his second year on The Northmen's Log staff. Jacob is the lead design editor for the Log and always lends a helping hand to his fellow staffers, no matter the subject. Jacob became fond of reading and writing at a young age and continues to pursue the interest. Journalism is a perfect outlet for his interest in writing but also for sharing the problems and stories within his community.

Jacob is a driven and motivated student, looking to become the best he can be in his future career. Sports and athletics have taught him to be a go-getter, striving to do the best he can. His self guided experiences with basketball and volleyball have taught him how to be resilient, mentally tough, and a good team player. Jacob brings unique designs and new angles to all stories, always looking to help his staff improve their work. He can’t wait for another great year with the Log.

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