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By Erin Smith

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Thursday afternoon to officially declare the Knights Way Cafe at West Bladen High School as open. The students working in the cafe were excited as they waited for the ribbon cutting and were eager to get started serving their customers. The cafe is actually an Occupational Lab which was made possible through a partnership with the Cumberland County non-profit group Miller’s Crew.

“This is not a business,” said Schumacher on Thursday afternoon. She explained to those gathered that the Occupational Lab is a learning tool to help her students learn the job skills and social skills they will need when they graduate. She said the students act as servers and baristas.

“They are learning life skills that they can use to join the work force some day,” said Schumacher.

Also attending the ribbon cutting were representatives with Miller’s Crew and Miller’s Crew founder Kim Molnar. Her son, Miller, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Molnar’s husband, Karl Molnar, is a coach and was unable to attend the event.

“We are very grateful that we can be a part of this and partner with West Bladen. We had such a good time coming in here on that Sunday afternoon and getting this place ready,” said Molnar.

She explained that Miller’s Crew was created after she and her husband began to think about what Miller was going to do when he graduated from high school. Molnar said Miller’s Crew was developed as a way to teach special needs students job skills that will help them when they graduate.

Amy Schumacher’s students will operate the cafe for faculty and staff on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s from 8:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. She said the students take orders and make deliveries to the teachers and staff in the school. Schumacher said this helps the students to learn the layout of the school and to get to know the teachers and the teachers to get to know them. The students are also responsible for restocking the items in the cafe and for cleaning up at the end of each shift.

The items available at the cafe include coffee, tea, muffins, and hot chocolate. Items cost a donation to help with replenishing the supplies for the cafe.

In addition to recognizing Molnar for her assistance, Schumacher also recognized special guests with plaques.

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