Farmington High School has made a lot of great changes in the last year. Black Knight TV can live stream just about any event held at the school. The front foyer got a make-over during the summer, and a state of the art gymnasium is just around the corner. What seemed to be missing was a good cup of coffee.
All that came to an end on Monday with the grand opening of Wise Knights Café. The student-run shop at the school is sponsored by Belgrade State Bank.
Wise Grounds, the coffee shop located at Belgrade’s Farmington branch, provides the coffee and training for the students.
Now anyone can stop in and order a plain cup of coffee or something a bit more gourmet like a vanilla latte, a chocolate cappuccino or a sweet ice tea.
“This is so great,” Principal Dr. Nathan Hostetler said. “They have a Google form that allows me to place my order. By 9:30 a.m., someone has tracked me down, delivered coffee and brought back my change.”
Wise Knights Café is not a coffee cart the students push around. It is an actual coffee shop the students run every morning just like any other retail operation.
“It is run like a 100 percent real business,” faculty advisor Tonya Cook said. “We have various jobs so each kid can fit in the area he or she feels most comfortable.”
According to Cook, Monday’s grand opening and the coffee shop almost didn’t happen because the lack of space and no water lines for the espresso machine.
“We tried a bunch of different ideas but nothing seemed to work,” Cook said. “I remembered the concession stand up front. We were able to use it, so I asked the bank it they still wanted to fund the project and they decided to do it.”
Cook said once the project was approved, Mark Krause, the director of operations, and the maintenance staff went to work over the summer to make the coffee shop a reality.
“Mark and the men in maintenance were wonderful,” Cook said. “They put in a lot of hard work to get this up and running.”
When the participating students got word about the program many of them were very interested in the idea and couldn’t wait for the program to begin.
“This is a fabulous idea,” said Mica Hopkins, whose son, Caden, is a staff member of Wise Knights Café. “He has been so excited about working. It’s been very good for him and everyone else. They are learning social skills and real life skills – clocking in, making change – this is very exciting.”
According to Julie Loughary, executive vice president of Belgrade State Bank, the plan was originally was to have some of the students work at Wise Grounds Coffee Shop, but when the opportunity came to open a shop on the high school campus, it allowed everyone to work.
“These kids could not be any better,” Loughary said. “When we went in and started talking to them about working in the coffee shop they really wanted to work.”
Before the grand opening, the students did have to be trained how to use the equipment, make the drinks and learn the basics of working in a professional environment.
Lindsey Johnson, the manager of Wise Grounds Coffee Shop, and Andrea McCarty with Belgrade State Bank, trained the students on all aspects of a coffee house business plans.
“These students caught on to things very quickly,” Johnson said. “I am glad they are getting the experience.”
After two weeks of practice using the faculty and staff, the students were ready for their grand opening. After the ribbon was cut, the coffee and the ice tea began flowing as each person stepped up and helped out.
“I want to thank Belgrade State Bank, Wise Grounds Coffee and the Farmington Regional Chamber of Commerce for making this opportunity possible,” Hostetler said. “These kids have a great opportunity to learn life skills they can carry with them. We are proud of this partnership.”
Wise Knights Café is open to the public from 7:30 to 8 a.m. and again at 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Craig Vaughn is a reporter with the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-756-8927 or at email@example.com