Students at Riverside High School, located in northwest Yonkers, know a thing or two about satisfying hungry customers – students and staff alike. Whether it is Milkshake Madness, after school pizza, or coffee and a muffin – the students at Café Riviera know how to market their products and turn a profit to boot. The café is actually a small kitchen left over from a former middle school home economics classroom. Under the direction of Principal Don Solimene and Teacher/Work-Based Learning Coordinator Kim Longville students use the kitchen to create snacks and cook up ideas for their next ventures.
What started last year as a Mother’s Day seedling project, has flourished into a multi-pronged business enterprise featuring everything from hand-crafted garden accessories to bake sales and more. Students who are involved in the projects have opportunities to develop work-readiness skills and to earn the New York State Regents Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) Commencement Credential.
Students actually run the businesses, all of which are overseen by Ms. Longville and two other teachers, Christine Sherrill and Shannon Keenan. In addition to food preparation, students are involved in marketing, sign-making, greeting, food planning and accounting. The student business partners, known as the Riverside Entrepreneurs’ Club, meet to discuss what projects to work on and how to invest their profits. All proceeds are kept in an account managed by a Riverside staff person, however, students collaborate on how to invest their profits.
In addition to developing new but easy to produce business ideas, Ms. Longville stated that it is important to select ideas that are both easily sustainable and promote recycling and reusing materials. One tip she shared: The students save plastic muffin containers and these are used as seedling starter pots. The seedlings will eventually be sold at a garden sale later this spring.
What’s next for the entrepreneurs? The students are considering several different ideas but Ms. Longville said one project will likely be vertical gardens. This will allow students to learn about healthy food choices, plus the plants will ultimately be sold. To learn more about how to start vertical gardening in your school, check out: https://dirt.asla.org/2013/08/13/diy-vertical-gardening/