In Focus: WF West is training its Baristas for a new business with Lewis County Coffee

Submitted by the Chehalis School District

Educational options for career paths have increased recently at WF West High School thanks to new business and marketing teacher Kristen Cioli.

The students in Ciolli’s class were buzzing with energy and excitement (and maybe a little caffeine) in preparation for the grand opening of The Crimson & Gray powered by Lewis County Coffee, a new business that the high school will eventually run and run entirely by students.

“This kind of thing doesn’t happen overnight,” said WF West Career and Technical Education (CTE) Director and Assistant Principal Christine Volcker. “Ms. Ciolli began making contact with the owners of Lewis County Coffee immediately after her appointment last spring.”

After some brainstorming with the building managers, Ciolli took the plunge and contacted Louis County Coffee owners Samantha, Spike Magnuson, and Angie Twining.

“It was Christine who rolled the ball,” said Voelker.

Ciolli has continued to keep this ball rolling, spending countless hours ensuring every detail is taken care of and taken care of before the grand opening on Wednesday, March 15th.

While the driving force in realizing this project, Ciolli had the support and assistance of business and operations specialist Gladis Mendez Mendoza. Together, they responded to the requirements of the health department, worked with contractors, responded to city and county inspectors and showed students the perseverance required to start a business. And students are eager to help.

WF West did not have a business and marketing separation for several years. However, with 43 students in Ciolli’s first semester class, it became clear that student interest would keep the program alive and thriving. Other CTE teachers help make new CTE pathways successful.

In Donnie Bunker’s sign-making class, help students create and install professional signage for the coffee shop, including a new logo designed by Allison Clinton. Clinton’s photography class and Ciolli’s yearbook staff are busy snapping photos. Other CTE Ciolli colleagues help make connections with local businesses and spread the word on social media.

Thanks to student-run cookie sales during lunch, cafe ingredients have been procured, and business and marketing students are ready to officially serve customers starting Wednesday.

Business and marketing

The Business and Marketing class provides students with a strong focus on employability skills, economics, marketing, business concepts, creative sales, and leadership development. Students will have the opportunity to participate in the Distributed Learning Clubs of America (DECA), an association of marketing students that encourages the development of business and leadership skills through academic conferences and competitions.

Recently, for the first time in years, Chehalis students competed in the DECA state competition. Participate in professional selling events and role-play competition.

“As DECA’s first students, they did very well,” said Ciolli. “Hopefully with more experience, our students from WF West will be able to continue to compete in state and national conferences.

Grand opening

Beginning at 11 a.m. on March 15, students and staff have the opportunity to order traditional coffee drinks including four specialty brews named after Chehalis schools’ mascots: The Bearcat, The Wildcat, The Cougar, and The Bobcat.

Special drinks flavored with cranberry, peach, strawberry, mango and more. Some are topped with orange juice. In order to meet USDA standards for public schools, the ingredients had to be modified, resulting in fewer calories per drink. For example, all smoothies are sugar-free – delicious, but low in calories.

Thanks to Lewis County Coffee, students are fully trained and ready to serve customers. All WF West baristas have attended formal training in the beverage recipes and service culture that Lewis County Coffee is known for.

“We were drawn to the culture of service this company has created and wanted the same for our students,” Volker said. “This training model, and the business culture that they promote, is exactly what our business and marketing students need.”

Furthermore, the coaches and owners of the Lewis County Café are former Bearcats. As alumni of WF West, Samantha, Spike Magnuson and Twining give back to their community.

They volunteer their time and expertise to design the workspace and give the students the work-based learning skills such as time management that are needed in this type of work.

“We look forward to ultimately serving parents and community members as well,” Ciolli said. “We plan to be open for some evening community events, and we hope to expand our hours as more working students participate and become available.”

Crimson & Gray, a restaurant powered by Lewis County Coffee, opened to a passionate customer base inside WF West High School on Wednesday.