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School library offers tasty beverages

Junior Jonathan Berry and IRC Director Melissa Middleton stand behind the new counter for the Read-A-Latte Cafe. Photo by O. Shumaker. (click for larger version)
May 23, 2012 - By Olivia Shumaker

Review Intern

The Information Resource Center (IRC), at Lake Orion High School is a place of learning, reading, research and now, coffee.

With the opening of the Read a Latte Café in the IRC, students can now enjoy a cup of joe while they browse the shelves.

"I want the high school Information Resource Center to be a place where students want to come before school, at lunch, and after school to sit, read, complete homework, etc.  I want it to be a welcoming, inviting atmosphere," said media specialist Melissa Middleton.

Putting in the coffee shop was part of that idea. Middleton started out by changing some of the physical appearance of the IRC, adding soft chairs and couches. The coffee shop was the ultimate goal of this year's efforts by Middleton and the IRC Advisory Board - a group of students who meet every third Wednesday of the month to discuss goals for the coffee shop and happenings in the IRC.

"We're still just opening up and getting our routine started," said junior Jonathan Berry, who manages the coffee shop. "We're looking forward to the future."

Though the coffee shop was started in April when students returned from spring break, planning for it began much earlier. The IRC Advisory Board was started in the fall, assisting in tasks such as shifting furniture and shelves to make the IRC more inviting. The ultimate goal, planned for the latter portion of the year, was opening the coffee shop.

This was because Middleton had a number of hoops to jump through before the coffee shop could be officially operational. In addition to gaining approval from the Oakland County Health Department and structural changes such as installing the section of wood floor on which the coffee shop resides, "There were significant expenses incurred to get the coffee shop up and running," Middleton said. The Student Leadership group and the Diane Winter memorial fund both made donations to the project, though the coffee shop still has to pay off some startup expenses before profits can be realized. All of those profits will go into the IRC to aid in the purchase of "more soft-seating, e-readers, and other improvements to the library and school," Middleton said.

The coffee shop is run exclusively by a rotating staff of student volunteers and is open each day before and after school. Berry has an internship as the manager of the coffee shop and is there each day to manage day-to-day operations, with some assistance from Middleton when needed. The Read a Latte Café offers coffee, tea, hot chocolate, flavored syrups, flavored creamer and water.

"It entails a lot of customer service, attracting a lot of students, having a lot of fun making coffee and delivering it to students, and having an overall good attitude," Berry said.

The Read a Latte Café will stay open through the remainder of the school year as well as next year. In the future, besides the café, Middleton hopes the IRC will, "host some open-mic nights, read-ins, and maybe some poetry slams."

"We now have regulars who purchase a coffee or hot chocolate every morning, move to the greenhouse windows in the back of the room, pick up a book, and curl up on one of the couches," Middleton said. "It is my vision realized."

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