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Students take lead on coffee shop

by Rachel Dickerson | September 22, 2022 at 7:50 a.m.
RACHEL DICKERSON/MCDONALD COUNTY PRESS Student leader Lexie Abbott, a senior at McDonald County High School, indicates a wall while discussing remodel possibilities at the McDonald County Student Chamber Coffee Shop in Pineville on Tuesday.

PINEVILLE -- McDonald County High School business students met Tuesday to discuss plans for the future McDonald County Student Chamber Coffee Shop to be housed in the chamber of commerce building on the square in Pineville.

Business teacher Kristy Gilgen said the chamber of commerce wrote and received a grant from T-Mobile for $50,000 to purchase equipment and remodel the lobby of the building into a student-run coffee shop in the mornings from 7 to 11 a.m. Students created proposed drawings for the remodel in class, and they gathered Tuesday to discuss them on location.

They discussed what would and would not work with the facilities -- for example, plumbing was only available on one wall, and some drawings showed features with plumbing on the other side of the kitchen. They also discussed preferences, such as open or closed shelving and what kind of lighting they would like to have.

Gilgen said the chamber of commerce has a board, the student chamber board, that will look at the renderings and make decisions based on student input.

Business teacher Sherry Lemm said, "This is student-led. They're taking this from the ground up."

She said the students working on the project are all enrolled in a class called Supervised Business Experience. They will end up with scholarships from their involvement.

McDonald County Schools communications director Ken Schutten said the first scholarships would come from the T-Mobile grant, and then the coffee shop should make enough revenue to provide more.

Student leader Lexie Abbott, a senior at McDonald County High School, said students called about 10 coffee shops to try their beans and to see if they wanted to use them for barista training. She said they are visiting one shop next week to try different beans and to look into barista training.

She said she believes the project is a great opportunity for students because they all need to learn customer service and how to work with people, and they also get to learn to operate a business from the ground up. She said they would be doing everything from creating the menu to working on the financial aspects of the business.

John Newby, president and CEO of the McDonald County Chamber of Commerce, said the student chamber had been around four or five years, and the coffee shop idea came about two or three years ago. He hopes the coffee shop will be open by year's end.

"I think the educational value is immense," he said, adding it is one thing to be taught in a classroom, but experience cannot be taught. He added that the chamber has resources to help if needed.

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