Hillside Cafe

Hillside Café provides unique experience for Science Hill students

 

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Since 2016, Science Hill High School students have had a unique opportunity to learn about business and marketing as they have overseen the day-to-day operations of a full-service coffee shop inside the school during lunch.

Science Hill marketing teacher Rose Hilton - who oversees the Hillside Cafe - said that it has been a great tool to give her students real world experience in a controlled environment. 

“Every aspect of an entrepreneur goes into the make-up of the cafe,” Hilton said. “Students are entirely responsible for the complete running, all I am there for is for mainly supervision. It gives them the opportunity to promote a business, buy for a business and how to look at a budget for a business.”

Business has tripled this year for the Hillside Cafe and Hilton believes that is due to the student’s use of social media to promote the cafe and its many offerings. Students can get one of the cafe’s many special drinks or a normal cup of coffee. The shop also sells Science Hill merchandise to students. 

Students normally have culinary arts before they work in the shop and they have to complete marketing and business classes before they get to work in the coffee shop for class credit.

Science Hill senior Clara Wood is in her second year at Science Hill and she was surprised when she saw how much goes into the Hillside Cafe.

“I kind of just thought it was going to be like when you’re a little kid and you have a lemonade stand and it would be just pouring a cup of coffee,” Wood said through a smile. “But this isn’t just making coffee; it’s actually providing a learning experience for all of us, too.”

Science Hill senior Khloe Sisley is responsible for making the orders from Vienna Coffee Company for the cafe and she said she has enjoyed the experience. 

“I love working in there because it is an experience that most kids don’t get to have in high school,” Sisley said. “I feel like it has given me a lot of valuable experience to take into the real world.”

The group also creates unique drinks. Their latest is the Unicorn Frappe, which has white chocolate and strawberry with pink coloring to make it stand out.

“With all the drinks we make, we just kind of think of flavors that could be good together and then we throw it together and try it,” Sisley said.

Science Hill senior Tiara Harvey said that creating and testing the drinks has helped spark a bit of her creativity.

“It makes you feel more creative and having to come up with the recipes has helped me in the classroom because we have to be creative in there as well,” Harvey said. 

Science Hill students are also able to use the space to eat lunch and teachers can reserve the space to hold their classes. The space has also been used by the district to host functions.

“Kids really love to have lunch in there and I think it’s just the atmosphere that they like,” Hilton said. 

The idea was the brainchild of Hilton, former Johnson City Schools Superintendent Dr. Richard Bales and former Science Hill principal Melanie Riden-Bacon. Profits from the cafe go back into the school and are spent on programs and other necessities for the student body. 

But more than the profit that they make, Science Hill senior Lauren Gardner said the experience has been priceless.

“Personally I am really interested in business management and stuff and I think that all of us have learned great business techniques and how to run a small company,” said Gardner who has been helping at the Hillside Cafe since her sophomore year. “We’ve learned not only how to work together, but also how to own something.” 

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