Photos and story by Roshni Lalchandani, Cave Spring High School
Students used to walk into school every day with a signature coffee cup in hand.
While the caffeine may have helped them get through their early classes, the extra stop on the way to the school could be a hassle.
It’s one of the reasons Cave Spring High School created the Knight ‘N’ Day Cafe, an on-site coffee shop developed by students for students.
The cafe was conceived last year by teacher Terena Hale’s culinary arts class. It started off simple. Each student focused on a different priority, from making posters to designing a menu.
“It took months of preparation. First we started off slow, buying our ingredients from Kroger. After our first year serving from the indoor concession stands, we were relocated to a large empty classroom,” said Selena Salazar, a junior who works at the cafe.
The move to a classroom took all summer to prepare, but the students agree the more professional and colorful store was worth it. The coffee shop is now filled with couches, student’s art, and room to fit equipment that provides more menu options. “It’s really taken off. We have a lot of drinks and a monthly signature drink, as well,” said Salazar.
Many students are awaiting the arrival of smoothies, which the cafe has promoted with the start of spring. The cafe offers the purchase of a punch card for $10. Each purchased drink counts toward one punch. If you buy 10 drinks, then you get one free. Prepaid cards are also available. You can issue any amount of money you’d like to a card, and use it the next time you make a purchase.
“Right now, all our revenue is just going into an account to keep the coffee shop running,” explains Hale, the teacher coordinator of the cafe.
Cave Spring students enrolled in a culinary arts or nutrition and wellness class can participate in the shop. The students work every day for the most part, but are allowed to take days off as they please. All the student work is done is school while Hale takes care of the supplies on her own time.
Students work every morning during the store hours of 7:45 to 8:20 a.m.
“Working at the cafe has many perks,” Salazar said. “Not only do I get extra credit, and a free daily drink, but it also counts towards volunteer hours.”
In addition to drinks, a variety of breakfast items such as bagels and muffins are available. Prices for drinks can be anywhere from $1 for a 16-ounce iced tea to $3 for a 20-ounce Iced Caramel Mocha. For foods, 75 cents can get you fruit, while $2 can get you a Jimmy Dean Sausage Biscuit.
“We buy and bake some foods. Depending on what’s going on in the classroom, we’ll make something for the shop and sell those. We make all our drinks, and have some mixes for those, as well,” said Hale.
The cafe has also been recognized for its students’ work.
“We recently got an award called ‘Creating Excellence for Roanoke County Schools region 6 of Virginia. It’s for exemplary programs for the area,” said Hale. “Sherrie Tyler’s special needs class also helps out a lot with inventory and cleaning. A lot of what we do is possible because of them.”
Many students come to the cafe not just for food but because of the friendly atmosphere. The old classroom is now littered with soft couches and artwork from other students.
“It’s a great place to meet friends in the morning. We can lounge on the sofas and discuss last night’s homework in a chill environment,” said Molly Kwitney, a freshman regular.
According to Kwitney, it’s one of the reasons she loves being a Knight of Cave Spring.
“No other school has something like this,” she said. “I’m excited to see where it goes the next few years.”