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Titusville High School Students Open Coffee Stand

October 15, 2013
Source: Florida Today

Note: The online story includes a video (1:00 minute) without captions.

Jacob Mullen was all smiles Tuesday morning as he jumped in front of cameras and struck a pose, joining about 10 students in opening the first student-run business in Brevard Public Schools [in Florida].

The 17-year-old has autism, and his parents Shelly and Brian Mullen watched proudly as their son made onlookers laugh during the grand opening of the Titusville Coffee Pit on Tuesday morning.

He has come so far, Shelly said, reflecting on times, when he was younger, that she worried about his future and his ability to be employable.

“Anything is possible,” Titusville High Teacher Janice Dolan said with a smile. “Never, ever, ever give up.”

About 10 students with intellectual disabilities, from Down syndrome to autism, are running the coffee stand at the North Brevard Government Complex in Titusville. The school program helps teach vital life lessons that educators say are critical to life after high school.

Students have been part of the entire business, from choosing a name to being responsible for inventory and counting change. They’ll even decide what to do with the profit: Initially, it will be used for supplies, but eventually it may pay for a field trip or other class event.

For weeks, they’ve practiced serving coffee and interacting with customers. And finally, they were ready for business.

County Commission [member] Robin Fisher was the first in line on Tuesday, and he used a five dollar bill to buy two cups of coffee: One for School Board Member Michael Krupp, who also represents the Titusville area, and one for himself.

After being approached about the business this spring, Fisher helped teachers navigate the health and facility regulations that come with selling coffee in the government building.

It’s a great idea, said Lia Allawas, an assistant state attorney, as she stood in line to buy some coffee.

“It gives them business experience, and it gives us coffee,” she said.

The Titusville Coffee Pit will be open week days from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Students are asking for a donation of a dollar per cup of coffee.

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