Rockford High School library Ram Café now open

Rockford High School senior Brittany Schott serves student customers.

Rockford High School senior Brittany Schott serves student customers.

Rockford High School library Ram Café now open

A warm wood grain floor and rich brown and orange colors adorn the walls, and dark cherry cabinetry with countertops mimicking granite welcome guests. And then, of course, there is the aroma of fresh roasted coffee filling the air. Is this a high-end coffee emporium so ubiquitous in the modern American urban landscape? No, it is a former workroom attached to the Rockford High School (RHS) library.

Beginning this month, students and staff who visit the school library are also able to enjoy a nice beverage as they work or relax. Library patrons will be able order coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and even chai latté from smiling student baristas who will be earning credit in a business management course. Student café managers will have the opportunity to learn in a real world business setting. The curriculum for the course challenges learners to make daily management decisions such as controlling inventory, reordering, providing customer service, as well as managing the financial side of a small business. The Ram Café is open daily from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. with over 20 students serving as managers each trimester.

The café is the result of the collaborative work of RHS Media Specialist George Wilson and Business Education Instructor Peg Schoenborn. With the support of administration and the generosity of several community businesses (Styles Cabinetry, RJ Countertops, and Rockford Floor Covering) a vision became reality in less than a school year. Several RHS students and staff volunteered for many hours after school and on weekends to paint, stain and set up the café. The café is outfitted with high-quality equipment provided by Gordon’s Food Service.

It certainly is not your grandmother’s library. While some people might be puzzled by the concept of a library with a coffee shop, it is a growing national trend. Public libraries, college libraries and, yes, more and more high school libraries across the country are finding that their patron base really warms up to the idea that a “hot cup of joe” coupled with a good read makes for a quality library visit.

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