Uniontown High School students opened a coffee shop on April 5 at the school, following months of preliminary groundwork.
The school’s mascot is an eagle and the name of the coffee shop is Eagles’ Nest.
“The name was chosen by students through surveys,” Alicia Jackson, the teacher sponsor of the project, said.
The idea was an outgrowth of one of the three major redesign committees that Uniontown Junior / Senior High School personnel has established, she said.
“The Special Ops Committee originally had thirteen members, consisting of teachers and staff from all areas across the school. Students were a part of the team as well.”
In 2020, students presented a PowerPoint presentation to the USD235 school board along with a complete business plan and design ideas.
“Much of the groundwork included interviews, coffee shop field trips, research, and surveys,” she said. “The school board…designated a space for the coffee shop and had renovations completed prior to school opening this year.”
“A group of seven Project-Based Learning (PBL) students picked up the project and have made the coffee shop truly a student-led operation,” Jackson said.
Some of the goals for the project: students gain detailed business knowledge, gain work experience as employees and managers, and develop skills that will enable them to transition to part-time or full-time jobs.
Additional goals are to “earn scholarships, to encourage better grades so students will be granted privileges to ‘hang out’ at the coffee shop area, and to add a fun element to the learning environment as well,” Jackson said.
Seven Project-Based Learning students are working in the shop. Junior Laney Covey is the manager. Senior Rhian Gorman led the design efforts. The two assistant managers are Junior Camryn Davis who has contributed from her work experience outside the school, and Junior Alie Fuhrman who has focused on fundraising and operations. Senior Hannah Smith joined the group this semester when she returned from remote learning and brought business knowledge to the group. Two junior high students are actively involved as well: Tyranny Bilyeu and Abigail Lotterer.
The manager’s job is to oversee operations such as ordering supplies, purchasing equipment, preparing and decorating the facility, Covey said.
“As a team, our Project Based Learning group worked together to accomplish all of the preparations to open a coffee shop,” Covey said.
” I think that the Eagles’ Nest opens up a multitude of opportunities to our high school and junior high students,” Covey said. “Not only do students get to enjoy a beverage that has not previously been offered to them at school, but students can sit down at the tables, visit, and hang out.”
“By opening up the coffee shop, we give students a calm environment that we can continue to utilize and grow in the future,” Covey said.
“The Eagles’ Nest project has also been a great learning experience to teach us the basics of running and operating a business,” Covey said.
The coffee shop workspace is a room located inside of the former FACS (Family and Consumer Science) room in the high school. The space was originally a darkroom for yearbook staff years ago,” Jackson said.
“This PBL group has cleaned, painted, and decorated the entire outer room, which is now used for seating,” Jackson said. “The larger room is a shared space for meetings and classes as needed but open for the coffee shop during our hours.”
The target customers are students from grades 7 – 12.
“Teachers and staff have also been supportive buyers,” Jackson said. “We follow the nutritional guidelines for sizes of drinks and nutritional content. We are thrilled when anyone buys from us.”
Prices range from $ .75 to $1.25 depending upon the order.
” We have coffee, iced coffee, and cappuccino for high school students only,” Covey said. “The coffee shop also has iced tea, hot tea, hot chocolate, lemonade, and Capri Sun available to the entire student body. The Eagles’ Nest will also be offering a wide variety of specialty syrup flavors.”
The Eagles’ Nest is open from 7:30 until 7:55 a.m. and then again for ten minutes during 2nd Chance Breakfast between 2nd and 3rd hours.
“We are hoping to open during some seminar periods at the end of the day, as we perfect our skills and schedules,” Jackson said.
“The shop did a soft start opening with seniors during seminar on Monday, April 5,” Jackson said. “Since then, we have been open daily in the mornings.”
“PBL (Project-Based Learning) is one of the main redesign emphases that we implemented this year,” Mike Reith, principal of the high school and junior high, said. “We have a 70-minute PBL period every Wednesday; this is to allow students the opportunity to focus solely on their projects.”
“We currently have 84 different PBL groups, ranging from community/school service to learning new musical instruments to beginning a chicken operation to promoting school spirit to wood and metal projects to developing exercise programs to painting wall murals around the school, and so many more,” he said.
“The Eagles’ Nest Coffee Shop has been one of the main business-focused PBL projects, but we also have some young ladies who have started a T-Shirt design and printing business called ‘The U’,” he said. “They have been very successful so far and continue to see their orders increasing.”
The PBL presentations will take place on April 27 and 28 during the PBL period, he said.