‘Ocean Brew’ open for business at Huntington Beach high school – Los Angeles Times

‘Ocean Brew’ open for business at Huntington Beach high school – Los Angeles Times

Ocean View High School teacher Courtney Gillette came up with the idea while teaching math, but the Ocean Brew Coffee Cart really illustrates a scientific term.

It’s a symbiotic relationship.

Gillette’s students in the school’s IDEAS (Independence, Diversity, Educating All Students) program get experience preparing and delivering coffee and tea from scratch to teachers around campus twice a week.

The teachers? Well, they get that much-needed morning jolt.

Gillette’s students are responsible for all parts of the operation, including the collecting of $1 for each cup of joe and cleaning the equipment. Two students in her Ocean Brew second-period class go around with the coffee cart each Wednesday and Friday, on a rotating basis. Meanwhile, the other students clean the equipment before heading to the store to buy supplies.

Teacher Courtney Gillette, center, gets senior Hazel Pena started with the coffee machine as they fill orders Friday.

Teacher Courtney Gillette, center, gets senior Hazel Pena started with the coffee machine as they fill orders Friday.

(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

“I wanted them to just get out and learn,” said Gillette, who also serves as the Huntington Beach Union High School District liaison for the Unified Sports program. “I’m not a book person, I’m not an in-the-classroom lecturer. I wanted them to do something, get out and sell something.”

Gillette said she looked at Able Coffee, a local coffee shop that employs people with autism, and thought, “We can do that.”

A form is sent out so teachers can place their orders in advance. Other Ocean View teachers are part of the “coffee club” and have already paid for a year’s worth of coffee in advance.

Though orders are taken for only staff, not students, there are exceptions. John Volo, an Ocean View Business Academy instructor, likes to order three coffees and give them out to students.

Ocean View teacher John Volo, center, shares a fist pound with IDEAs student Hong Lai, 16, right, after he delivered coffee.

Ocean View teacher John Volo shares a fist bump with IDEAs student Hong Lai, 16, after he delivered coffee on Friday morning.

(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

On Friday, Volo was complimentary to the two Ocean View delivery students, senior Alex Wright and sophomore Hung Lai, who went around campus with instructional aide April Lancaster.

“First day ever doing it?” Volo said with a smile as he took the drinks. “You guys already seem like pros.”

In reality, Lancaster had to remind them to put a sleeve — stamped with an Ocean Brew logo — on the cup first, for example, so they didn’t get burned. But the delivery session, which was over by 9:30 a.m., mostly went off without a hitch.

“They’ll probably deliver twice next week too,” Lancaster said. “By the end, they’ll get the hang of it.”

IDEAs students Alex Wright, center, and Hong Lai head out to deliver coffee orders to classrooms Friday.

IDEAs students Alex Wright, center, and Hong Lai head out to deliver coffee orders to classrooms Friday.

(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

That is the goal for the Ocean Brew program and similar ones, which are popping up at high schools throughout the district.

The IDEAS students now have tangible vocational and social skills. Next Friday, Gillette said Ocean Brew is taking a trip to the district office and selling coffee to staff there.

“These kids can now go to Starbucks,” Gillette said. “They can say, ‘I can be a barista. I know how to make coffee. I know how to follow directions. I know how to clean up.’”

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