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Joe to Go brings fresh coffee and pastries to school

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If you enter from the North 1 doors of the school on a Tuesday or Friday morning, the smell of fresh coffee and pastries fill the hallway. You can find homemade muffins, biscotti, quiche and coffee at the school’s Joe-To-Go cart. Ran by the students in the special education class, Joe-To-Go began within the last year. Every week, coffee is sold on Tuesdays, and Fridays sell both coffee and pastries.

The idea for Joe-To-Go began with special education teacher Lisa Long in order to put life skills to the test and raise money for the class.

“Last year we came up with the idea of a student-run business, and within that business we can work on life skills. For example, we count money, we bake, we make coffee, we go to the store to purchase everything,” Long said.

Along with fresh ground coffee, all pastries are homemade and are made from scratch the day before being sold. The process for preparing for Joe-To-Go starts with planning days on Monday and Tuesday, where they decide what they want to make that week. On Wednesday, a group of students goes grocery shopping at Walmart for ingredients, on Thursday they bake and Friday is the sales day. For a morning shift, three students work at a time, rotating between the cashier and serving coffee and pastries. Joe-To-Go is only open to teachers, staff and faculty and all proceeds go towards the Special Education program.

As of last year, Joe-To-Go won first place in an award for an economic grant and spoke about it at a luncheon on Monday, Oct. 2 at the Elks Lodge held by the Harrisonburg Rotary Club.

“We applied for an economic grant, and we [won] 1,000 dollars. We won first place out of this whole area in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. It’s sponsored by JMU and the Shenandoah Valley Economic Education,” Long said.

When it comes down to working the cashier, freshman Destiny Lambert not only enjoys working with money, but working to prepare herself for the future.

“I think it’s really nice of us to do this because we’re learning how to have a real job… I like it when we make treats to go with their coffees [like] pumpkin muffins,” Lambert said.

Senior Maria DeSantiago is one of the workers for Joe-To-Go and helps with making the pastries and coffees for each session.

“The money is hard to count.. [My favorite food is] muffins because I like to eat it,” DeSantiago said.

Although it has only been going on for a year, the student-run business has been building up life skills for the students, and they plan to continue Joe-To-Go in the future. Special education teacher Walter Williamson also works with students in preparing for the weekly coffee cart.

“We do it as part of their program for daily living skills where they learn how to follow recipes and measure,” Williamson said. “They’re learning life skill… that will lend themselves into being independent later in life and also job skills.”

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Joe to Go brings fresh coffee and pastries to school