VCAL students at Catholic Ladies’ College are getting a taste for Melbourne’s celebrated coffee scene thanks to the creation of the school’s very own student-operated cafe space.
VCAL Coordinator Janet Deller explains that the school’s recent renovation of a lower courtyard led to a unique opportunity. Blessed with new space, CLC’s Principal, Stephanie Evans, wanted to come up with a way of expanding facilities for VCAL students, while also creating a common space for students. A cafe was deemed the perfect solution to both these needs, and the rest is history.
Deller says the VCAL students are enthusiastic about the new project.
“It’s a bit of a win-win situation for all of us. They loved the idea of having this as their own and being able to have input into the development of it,” she says.
Students have also been eagerly figuring out all the intricacies which come along with managing a small business; costing, ordering supplies, managing a budget, and offering great service (and beverages) are all part of the process.
“It’s been great for students to be able to work on the different tasks associated with it, working as a team. They’re enthusiastic about seeing it work.”
Evans says in the future, having these facilities on the school campus could also offer other students the opportunity to gain new skills. She notes that barista skills can come in handy, particularly for students wishing to travel.
Evans is also happy to see the school cafe serving its purpose in terms of developing community and abilities.
“It’s the understanding for the girls, of how to manage the money, manage the queue, get the student orders done in time before the bell goes...and since the cafe can be moved outdoors, they have to take into account the weather as well.
“It’s learning in a very real way for them.”
VCAL student Natalie Hackett says the cafe, which is currently open every Monday and Thursday at recess, has been a resounding success so far.
“It’s going really well, everyone is on top of it, everyone likes it.”
Although Hackett has previous experience working in a cafe, this project has come with its own challenges.
“It’s about getting used to the speed and the chaos.”
While the student feedback has been overwhelmingly positive so far, Hackett says some of the cafe’s most dedicated patrons are the teaching staff.
“When they smell the coffee, they come,” she laughs.
Deller, who also concedes “coffee and teachers do go together”, is happy to see the VCAL students taking charge of the project.
“The whole set-up was reviewed by the students,” she says, “it’s student driven, they are the ones making improvements. It’s based on student decisions and student motivation.
“We are there to facilitate but it’s actually the students who are running the enterprise.”