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Clarinda students learn important life skills
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Clarinda students learn important life skills

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Something exciting is brewing at Clarinda High School this year.

Students involved in the resource program taught by Haley Weis have created the Cardinal Coffee Shop. Each Friday, the students sell coffee and a fresh baked item to the teachers at the high school.

Cardinal Coffee Shop is one of two unique programs designed to teach the students important life skills. The other program is a partnership with the Clarinda Hy-Vee Store where students assist with preparations for the sale of items from the new warehouse facility operated by Hy-Vee in the former Shopko building.

“Our life skills class focuses on basic skills the students need for home and on a job,” Weis said. “Last year, our students had the opportunity to go out in the community, but this year we had to get creative.”

Weis came up with the idea for the Cardinal Coffee Shop last Christmas. Various supplies for the program were donated to the class, but by the time Weis was ready to implement the program in March, school was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the new school year started, Weis went to work setting up the program. The Cardinal Coffee Shop made its debut the second week of school. Weis said the shop had approximately 30 orders its first day and has remained popular ever since.

“The teachers love it. We had to cancel one week because some of our students were gone. I received several messages asking if we were still going to continue it. It was exciting to realize people wanted it and missed it when we did not do it,” Weis said.

Working out of the concession stand in the commons area of the high school, the students go to work at the Cardinal Coffee Shop as soon as they arrive at school. The shop stays open until the end of the first period at 9:30 a.m. to handle walk-up orders from teachers and staff.

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“They get so happy about getting to see all their teachers when they go deliver the coffee. Until we got this going we were doing life skills like making changing and dealing with customers in the classroom. Now, they are able to do those things and get a more realistic experience. Having an actual customer in front of you makes you realize what it is really like,” Weis said.

Besides filling the orders for coffee and baked goods each Friday, the students also learn what preparations are necessary to make the shop successful. The students make a list of groceries they will need for each week. This includes developing a budget for the supplies and ingredients they will need for the baked goods sold each week.

On Thursdays the students do their baking. This experience teaches the students to measure the ingredients and follow basic recipes.

“They like doing hands-on activities like baking. They can taste what they made and they get a sense of satisfaction out of what they did,” Weis said.

Proceeds from the Cardinal Coffee Shop are used to buy supplies for the following week. Weis said the rest of the revenue is being saved to pay for fun activities like going to eat at a local restaurant once COVID-19 conditions improve enough to allow students go out in the community during the day.

“I want them to see you have to raise money for fun activities, but still teach them something like how to budget for a meal at a restaurant,” Weis said.

Besides working at the Cardinal Coffee Shop during their life skills class, the students also spend three days a week assisting at the Hy-Vee warehouse. The students started working at the Shopko building in early October.

“This is a great way for our students to get out and do things in the community, but still social distance,” Weis said. “Last year we had students work in the bakery and perform general jobs like stocking shelves. It is great opportunity for our kids to gain some real life experience. We appreciate Hy-Vee and their partnership with us.”

The students help organize the warehouse shelves. They have also learned life skills like taking inventory and folding the clothing items available for sale at the store.

“The things I have seen there have been amazing. They are learning to work as a team to get a job done. That is a huge skill they will use for their whole life,” Weis said.

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