Selling coffee helps teach life skills

Zack Gilbert Burke, Sports editor

Courtesy of the special education department, coffee is now available in the mornings

For the past few weeks, sophomore Chris Foley, a few classmates and special education teacher Christine Tvrdik have been coming to school a little earlier than usual to raise funds for the St. Louis Park Emergency Program (STEP)and Feed My Starving Children.
Students and staff provide beverages from 8:20 to 8:40 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday mornings in room C159 1/2. The coffee from Duncan Coffee costs $1 per cup or 75 cents if people bring their own cup.
Large muffins from Cub Foods and assorted teas are also available for purchase, with muffins sold for $1.50 each and tea costing 75 cents or 50 cents with a cup brought from home.
Tvrdik said she is impressed so far with the student and staff support, and said it has been more successful than she anticipated. However, Tvrdik admits the coffee operation was not her idea.
“The kids came up with it,” she said. “It’s great that we get to work on a lot of skills we practice in class such as preparation, service, cleanup and handling money.”
Foley, one of the students who runs the coffee operations, said he is excited to help people in need.
“I am very proud because we are giving to charity and providing kids with food and clothes who really need it,” Foley said.
When asked who his favorite customer has been so far, Foley responded immediately.
“We have had a lot of staff members visit,” he said. “Mr.  Metz has been our favorite customer up to now.”
Principal Rob Metz said he sees the coffee as important for not only the special education department, but for others in the school as well.
“I think a lot of times, students and staff go through their day interacting with the same people in the same classes,” Metz said. “This is a great way to get out of the normal routine in a different way.”
Amy Groom, co-department chair for the special education program at the high school, said she has never seen this amount of initiative from the special education program in the six years she has held her position.
Groom also said she was pleased with the amount of student and faculty support for the charity event.
“It’s important that they feel they are part of the school,” she said. “The staff support so far has been absolutely wonderful.”
Pottery teacher Erik Adolphson is a regular customer of the coffee and said he supports the cause.
“It’s a pleasure to see how capable, excited and happy the students are to be doing what they are doing,” he said.
Junior Emma Herzog, who works with special education students who are a part of an adapted swim club, said the relations between the special education students and other students are critical.
“It’s nice for them to interact with the rest of the student body in a way that they are doing something important,” she said. “It definitely boosts their self-worth.”
Foley also provided some insight into why students decided to donate to STEP and Feed My Starving Children.
“We have so much clothes and food that go to waste in this country and it feels good to be able to provide those things for the people that need it most,” he said.