Freelance reporter specifically for the Tribune
This Monday, Skyline Schools celebrated the grand opening of their student cafe, The Beakery. The Beakery is open to visitors and parents from 7:30 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. at the east side entrance near the cart; after which students and faculty are invited to come to business instructor Taylor Stratford’s classroom during the first hour to order coffee and pastries. The current menu includes coffee, tea, hot chocolate, smoothies, protein shakes, lemonade and muffins.
The Beakery is run and developed by members of Stratford’s Applied Business Development class. She said the grand opening of The Beakery is the fulfillment of a dream Superintendent Becca Flowers had $438 to have a school business.
“She was committed to giving students a new opportunity to learn,” Stratford said.
Brainstorming for this school business has been going on for over a year. Stratford said last year’s class of four students originally planned to open a print shop. Kiley Hammond, one of the managers of The Beakery, said the original idea was to create a consignment shop.
As part of the brainstorming process, Stratford and her class visited several businesses with a similar focus, including Stomping Grounds at Campus High School in Hayesville. The Campus High School cafeteria made a good impression on Stratford and its students.
Skyline student Hammond said the visit helped them decide to change direction and The Beakery was created.
Why “The Beakery?” Stratford said the name was coined by her students to be a play on words to reflect their school mascot: Thunderbird.
Another part of planning this school business was that the students had to create a business plan and present it to the board of education. Throughout the process, Stratford said her students have been very self-sufficient.
“I acted as a guide to help them and keep them informed; everything else was them,” she said.
To start the cafe, students raised funds last year by selling wristbands in the school’s Skyline colors. Thanks to their fundraising, donations and a good foundation from a previous entrepreneurship class, they reached the funding point they needed to get started.
Once the store is fully established, Stratford said the proceeds will be used to provide scholarships to previous participants.
Of the four original students, two returned to Stratford’s Applied Business Development class this fall. These two, Kiley Hammond and Liz Bair, are now the managers of The Beakery. Currently, enrollment in the Applied Business Development class is required to work at The Beakery.
“In future years, students will be required to interview for a classroom/business position,” Stratford said.
The Beakery held a soft opening on Oct. 7, during Skyline’s homecoming event, selling only lemonade. The business consistently had long lines of employees and students and sold about 10 gallons of lemonade.
Hammond and Bair said they appreciated the opportunity to gain business experience.
“I’m proud that we built something from the ground up and that it will forever be a part of Skyline history,” Hammond said.
Bair said she hopes to use her experience in the future by opening her own business in the future. She also wants to use the experience to inspire other schools to take a leap of faith and try something new.
Stratford said she is proud of her students and what they have accomplished.
“I now have a wonderful team of students who have demonstrated a great work ethic, great creativity and a desire to get better.” she said. “I hope the kids learn what it’s like to be proud of the work they do and understand what it’s like to run a business in all aspects. This will be something that will help build their resume and experience before they even graduate from high school.”