The Java Jungle gives back

Catie Gelting, Staff writer

The sun is just rising over the horizon. Students begin to make the climb up the stairs to the school, their breaths visible in front of them. For many of these students, their journey in the morning will include a stop at the Java Jungle.
The Java Jungle is a coffee shop managed by the students in the Special Education program.They learn valuable skills that they will be able to use when they enter the workforce after their graduation from high school. The Java Jungle’s purpose isn’t only to give these students job experience; it also gives them direct access and contact with their peers in a positive way, which promotes healthy learning and experiences for all involved.
“I work in the cafe every morning, and I really like it because I’m not doing something boring. It gives me job experience so that I can be independent in the outside world,” explains sophomore Norman Moody.
The Java Jungle allows these students to learn how to manage money and responsibilities, learn what it is like to work and to have a boss, as well as give them chances to practice their communication skills. Most beverages at the Java Jungle are extremely inexpensive because most items cost about a dollar. The Java Jungle sells a variety of drinks including coffee, hot chocolate, iced tea, cappuccinos, strawberry iceies, and ‘Chan the Man’ (a half and half drink). It is open in the morning before school and during all lunch periods. When mornings are particularly cold, lines for coffee and hot chocolate can become long as students eagerly wait to buy a beverage to warm themselves before they make the trek to first period.
The program is important for the students running it, since it gives them job experience, but it’s also important for the customers as well. “Having the students work in the Java Jungle promotes acceptance and tolerance,” teacher Ann Marie Reynolds explains.
This is the first year the program will be running the store during lunch hours. In previous years, it was only open in the mornings, and the program sold brownies during lunch periods. However because of school policy, the students are no longer allowed to sell brownies. This policy sparked the program’s decision to open the Java Jungle during lunch hours.
“The people who work there are all nice people, and I like being able to get my coffee in the morning,” junior Bethlehem Mekonnen says.
The environment is friendly and inviting to all and is located near the G building entrance to the Cafeteria.