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Chapel Hill High Students Gain Work Experience at Tiger Cafe

From Proconian, CHHS newspaper, by Eh Ker Paw:

Set just around the corner of a classroom in the A-building, Tiger Cafe sells coffee and baked goods every school day to teachers, while providing job skills for students.  

“We want to provide an enhanced atmosphere and an inviting place for employees at Chapel Hill High School,” teacher assistant and Tiger Cafe facilitator Meredith Morse said.

Tiger Cafe is a part of the Occupational Course of Study (OCS) class that prepares students for real-world jobs. The cafe is mainly run by the students but is always overseen by a teacher.

“We plan a rotation for students every day, and, if their name is on the board, they are responsible for the day,” Morse said. “We see growth and confidence in our students, and, right when they get good at it, we add a new element to make it harder.”

Chapel Hill High School OCS teacher Pat Utz also helps to run and manage the cafe. She said she regularly uses her own money to make the cakes for the cafe. “This is an occupational study and offers so many things to our students that I am just willing to keep it going and put my own money in it,” Utz said.

When asked about his favorite part of Tiger Cafe, senior Erik Rotenberry answered that it’s the teachers who come to buy snacks and drinks. “My favorite part about Tiger Cafe is that we have a lot of good teachers coming in, and I ask them how their week is and how they are doing,” Rotenberry said.

Morse said one of the challenges of the cafe is its limited clientele. Due to school regulations, Tiger Cafe is only able to sell to teachers and staff. Tiger Cafe recently got approval on its grant application for a refrigerator and now will sell foods that require refrigeration.

Morse and Utz have big dreams for the shop. With the goal of becoming a mini shop, they are finding ways to sell more food and reach out to more teachers. “We want to have a cafe that more closely mimic real cafes in the street,” Morse said.

Gary Beneville, the school’s resource officer, donated ten cups of coffee earlier this year to random patrons of the cafe. “Sometimes you want to make people feel good,” Beneville said. “I had a little extra cash. I bought coffee, and it makes people happy.”

Tiger Cafe is open daily from Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. until lunch. The coffee ranges from 50¢ to $1.00, and pastries—such as cake, bagels, muffins and donuts—cost $1.00 each.