The Perfect Blend: Abington High School students brewing up something special

The coffee shop is part of the school's A.C.T.I.V.E Academy for Young Adults with Complex Needs.
ABINGTON TWP., Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- The Perfect Blend is a coffee shop at Abington Senior High School where students get real-world experiences that benefit their entire school community.

"What would you like, dolls?" asked 20-year-old Izzy Shepherd, as a group of students approached the window.

"The morning rush is very fun and very quick. It varies each day. Mondays are the slowest, and Fridays are the speediest," Shepherd told Action News.

The drinks are fresh and served up hot.

"I just love when I greet them, saying 'Good morning! How are you?'" said 19-year-old Nate Shannon, who manages the cold drinks on his shifts.

This coffee shop is part of the school's A.C.T.I.V.E Academy for Young Adults with Complex Needs, for students 18 to 21, who decide to stay after their senior year.

"This is going to help me in the future become more independent in myself because I'm young, like 19, and I'm still learning to become an independent person," said Shannon.

Special education teachers Cara Gimbel and Kathy Rafter designed the curriculum for A.C.T.I.V.E. Academy to help these young adults gain independent living skills.

"They go out to work sites, employability skills. We work on independent living," said Gimbel, as she listed some of the program's features.

Gimbel continued, "It gives the students at the high school an opportunity to interact with our students with IEPs, our students with special needs in an authentic way."

The Perfect Blend started as a coffee cart in 2015 and works off donations.

Students could get food service experience, fielding drink orders for their peers and staff.

When it came time to renovate the Abington Senior High School building, the program was such a hit, a coffee service window was created this school year, open every school day.

"They're working at a competitive pace. They're learning social skills. They're interacting, and they can make mistakes that we can be there to help them with," said Rafter explained

This window is popular- serving up to 175 drinks a day. They even have themed beverages.

"We try to make the school feel like they're also a part of it. So if any clubs or activities wants to join- we're willing to make a drink, you just have to let us know," Shepherd said.

Shepherd added, "Overall it's fun. I get to interact with all the students in the morning who come here, need a little wake-up call and we give them that wake-up call."
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