Culinary arts students at Stone County High open new cafe

Culinary arts students at Stone County High open new cafe
Students make iced and hot lattes at the Border Brew Cafe at Stone High School's student-ran cafe. (Ray Price)

WIGGINS, MS (WLOX) - A new coffee shop is open in Wiggins and it is completely run by high school students.

The original idea was to have a coffee cart or even a small closet to serve the drinks from. Never in a million years did the culinary arts students at Stone County High imagine being given an empty house to use as a cafe.

“When I pitched the initial plan of this business, I was thinking kind of small,” said Jaclyn Parker, the school’s culinary arts teacher.

The school district liked the idea and allocated some money to the project. The class also applied for grants, and some generous parents provided cash and manual labor to cover the rest of the costs. And voilà, the Border Brew Cafe was established at the school.

The building the cafe is in was a house the school owned and used as spare office space.

Whether the students go into the culinary industry or not, what they are doing inside the tiny cafe has huge impacts on other areas in life and extend far beyond hot or cold beverages.

"They're creating the menus, they're developing recipes, they're understanding the difference between cost and price so they can make a profit. They've created the logos, the uniforms that we're wearing," added Parker.

“Those skills have already helped me with my platoon and my drill sergeants, in a way," said senior culinary arts student Toni Dearman. “I see my leadership skills growing.”

Parker says the students thought of everything to make the space feel like an authentic coffee shop. There’s music, warm LED lighting, and original hip art. The only thing they don’t have is a Snapchat geotag. That just wasn’t in the budget.

But there is free WiFi and, judging by the long lines, as soon as the door opened at 3 p.m. the cafe is looking to be the new chill out zone on campus.

"It's kind of cool to have that school place to hang out, like in all of the movies," said Mason Smith, a student.

Only senior culinary students are working in the shop now, but later in the semester they will begin to schedule younger students in the program to work some after school shifts.

The money made at the cafe is being used to pay for conferences and trips the students may want to participate in.

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