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How Conant students, teachers run Cougar Perk Cafe.

Byline: Submitted by District 211

At 5:30 on a Friday morning, a small group of students and teachers walk in to James B. Conant High School to begin cooking. These individuals are members of a student run cafe called Cougar Perk, which sells baked goods and coffee to faculty and staff members of Township High School District 211. On Friday, Jan. 26, the cafe started its ninth year.

The Cougar Perk, which operates every Friday through the second semester, allows students to experience multiple aspects of operating a small bakery. For students to participate, they must take Practices in Entrepreneurship as well as one foods class. Patti Ertl, who teaches the entrepreneurship course said she enjoys seeing the students using everything they learned.

"I enjoy seeing the kids put into practice everything they've learned in both the business side and the family consumer science side," she said. "This has really become part of our culture at Conant High School."

English teacher Heather Munao said she has seen the students work to keep the cafe moving forward.

"(The cafe) is really sustained here," she said. "They come up with different things like coupons, specials and apps to keep it moving forward and follow the natural trajectory of a business."

Munao said her favorite item from Cougar Perk is the bacon quiche tart. The quiche is an item that senior Hanan Barrett enjoys to make for the cafe.

"The quiche is really the only savory dish we have, and I enjoy the savory stuff," he said.

Barrett chose to do Cougar Perk because he has an interest in pursuing culinary arts through college. He said working the cafe provides a nice getaway.

"I get to just cook for the first two hours and kinda destress to go on with the rest of my day," he said.

Senior Dylan Toth has been a part of Cougar Perk for three years. He said working with the students and staff in the cafe provides a feeling of being a part of a team.

"If you don't do a sport, it's nice to have that team feel that Cougar Perk really gives you."

One big change Dylan has seen was the addition of the new culinary arts kitchen, which opened this year.

"We have a convection now, which can make things much faster."

The increased speed is not the only advantage of the new kitchen, according to culinary arts teacher Angela Drenth.

"The new kitchen has helped tremendously," Drenth said. "Kids are practicing on industry standard equipment, so it's preparing them for when they go out into the real world."

Cougar Perk Caf is open every Friday from 7:15 a.m. until 8:30 a.m.

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Title Annotation:Neighbor
Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Feb 27, 2018
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