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Hillsboro School District, First Tech Credit Union Collaborate on Student-Run Coffee Shop

Update: Sept. 19 - Check out the student bios/Q&A, click here!

September 10, 2018 - On Wednesday, September 5, Hillsboro School District celebrated the grand opening of its first community-based Marketing Lab experience for high school students: a coffee shop in First Tech’s new Hillsboro Corporate Office, located across the street from the District’s administration center.

Cleverly named “Ground Up” by the student baristas, the coffee shop will allow students to earn class credit during the school year and to receive pay for the hours they work on non-school days. Six students are participating this year: four from Hilhi and two from Century. Next year, students from Glencoe and Liberty will join as well.

Hilhi’s Career and College Counselor, Melissa Pendergrass, developed the idea for such a partnership as a great way to provide real-world learning opportunities to students in the Business and Marketing career pathway. And when construction began on the First Tech building, Coordinator of Career and College Pathways Brooke Nova believed she had found the perfect collaborators.

She contacted First Tech Senior Vice President of Operations Gretchen Wakem to pitch the idea, and soon secured the internal champion she needed.

“[Brooke] called me to welcome us to the neighborhood and oh-by-the-way share this great idea,” Wakem chuckled. “How could I not be swayed by her abundant enthusiasm? And what an amazing opportunity for our employees and for the students!”

Pieces started to fall into place as Wakem and others within the First Tech organization helped work out the details of the arrangement, and as outside organizations began pledging their support. Nike came through with grant money to pay for the espresso machine and other necessary equipment, and Longbottom Coffee and Tea agreed to be the sponsoring coffeehouse. All of the products and recipes are from Longbottom Coffee and Tea, and once the students gain experience and confidence making the drinks, Longbottom Coffee and Tea pastries will join the lineup as well.

Supervising the coffee shop and the students is Hilhi alumnae Faith Valdez. She is very excited to work with students and help them gain the skills and experiences that will help them now and in the future. Valdez reports to Pendergrass, who ultimately oversees the project.

“This would not have happened without her,” notes Nova in reference to Pendergrass. “She absolutely had the vision, passion, and experience to see this through.”

Congratulations and many thanks to all who have been involved in bringing this unique collaboration to fruition!