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EAST HOLMES DISTRICT -- While maybe not quite what J.S. Bach had in mind when he composed "The Coffee Cantata," piping hot cups of java are bringing smiles to the faces of staff and students at Berlin Elementary, making "Manic Monday" a little less so at the school every week.
On Mondays and holidays, students in Marjorie Lohnes' special education class are transformed into little baristas, serving up hot beverages made to order.
They've been operating a mini cafe, using a coffee cart to make deliveries throughout the building, since Halloween, said Lohnes. They typically fill five to 10 orders a day. The cost is by donation and, thanks to donations of all starting materials, including a Keurig coffee maker, the venture has generated more than $100.
By a vote of the class at the end of the year, all proceeds will be split between Akron Children's Hospital and disaster relief in Haiti. The hospital has a special place in the hearts of many students, who have had or continue to receive treatment there, said Lohnes, adding the selection of another charitable cause came in the immediate wake of Hurricane Matthew. So, with a tie vote, they elected to split their earnings.
"The kids love it. They look forward to it," she said. "It has given them ownership of something in the school. Just to be visible ... it shows they might have disabilities in some areas, but they're also very able in others."
Duties -- write names, refill water, run the Keurig, add cream and sugar, deliver drinks -- are divided and often shared by two or three students. "They love to run the Keurig and deliver the coffee," Lohnes said.
Autumn Beachy said she likes to deliver the coffee, but has spent most of her days adding sugar and cream to drinks, as directed by a pictorial order form. The hardest part of the job, she said, is pumping the creamer.
Her mother recently told Lohnes that when the family got a Keurig at home, it was Autumn who taught them how to use it.
Ethan Jones said he most enjoys writing names on cups, just like in a real coffee shop. "I actually get to do something," he said, noting none would recognize his handwriting and contribution to the effort, except his mother, a customer of the program and teacher at the school.
Because the group already has reached its initial goal of $100 in sales, Jones spent a little time contemplating Lohnes' next challenge -- how to increase sales.
"We could remind people who have bought. They're forgetting," he said.
To place an order, staff complete and drop off order forms and donations at Lohnes' room or in her mailbox on Fridays or, at the latest, Monday mornings. On holidays, Lohnes' said, they also have the option of adding a bagel to their order.
Zane Rossetti, Sharpie in hand, said he'd really like a bagel for Valentine's Day.
Taking her turn working the Keurig, Brooklyn Gingerich said coffee making is the job she most enjoys. "It's fun," she said, noting participating in the program makes coming to school on Monday a little more exciting.
It makes it better for the staff too, who have offered nothing but positive comments, according to Lohnes, who noted "They love seeing the kids participate."
Reporter Christine Pratt can be reached at 330-674-5676.