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Students perk up Pitman teachers, staff with mobile coffee shop
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Pitman High School special education students Savannah Olvera and Krista Ferry help deliver coffee to mathematics teacher Renate Staley as part of the Pride Perk. - photo by ALYSSON AREDAS / The Journal

Pitman High School special education students trekked across the campus on Friday morning to provide a much-needed caffeine boost to teachers and staff as part of “Pride Perk,” a newly implemented on-site vocational education program.


As part of the coffee delivery service, students loaded up a cart with coffee, hot chocolate, tea, iced coffee, and blended drinks, as well as coffee creamers and sugar, and navigated through campus to fulfill nearly 60 orders that were gathered from campus teachers and staff throughout the week.


Special education teacher Ryan Bullard said that the department originally decided to bring about “Pride Perk” as a way to expand the vocational and life skills of his students, especially those who are looking to transfer to Turlock Unified School District’s On Track Transitions Program.


“We just wanted to bridge the gap on what we were educating kids at Pitman to what they would need to learn how to do in the On Track Program,” said Bullard.


Students contributed to making a portion of each drink, whether it was measuring the water for the coffee maker or counting the cups of coffee that they would need. When drinks became too hot or required the use of a blender, however, staff members took over to ensure the safety of the students.


“They are there with staff and watching the process, but they are not participating,” said Bullard. “The whole process overall teaches them a lot of things like how to measure and how to improve their social skills.”


Bullard said that the benefits provided to each student as a result of “Pride Perk” will depend greatly on the student. For his lower-functioning students, Bullard said that working at the mobile coffee shop could allow them to potentially develop a skill that they can use to help their parents at home. For his higher-functioning students, “Pride Perk” will help them start gathering the job skills they need to be successful when they are sent out to different workplaces in On Track.


Student Steven Shamgocian was accompanied by peer Savannah Olvera on Friday morning to deliver a portion of the drinks that were ordered for the day. While Olvera took money from teachers and gave them the appropriate change when necessary, Shamgocian pushed the cart.


“I really like pushing the cart and giving out the coffee,” said Shamgocian.


Although “Pride Perk” only experienced its first official run on Friday, it has already received an influx of campus and community support, including a large donation from the Dancing with the Turlock Stars Board.


“They were the ones who gave us our first large donation,” said Bullard. “They gave us all the essentials—coffee, coffee pots, carafes, cups, stirrers and creamers. With their donation, this went from just an idea to actually getting started.”


Bullard said that in addition to DWTTS’ generous donation, other individuals and businesses have stepped up to make donations in the form of money or additional supplies needed to maintain the mobile coffee shop.


“These donations make me feel like we’re doing something that people wanted to see,” said Bullard. “These people are here to support our kids and to make sure that they get a quality education they need to develop the skills that will help them transition into the community and be successful.”


The funds raised from “Pride Perk” will go towards a PHS account specifically dedicated to maintaining the mobile coffee shop. The department is also working with administration to see if they can use a portion of the proceeds to help senior students pay for various senior functions, including Sober Grad Nite, Disneyland and prom.

“We want to help make it easier for them to get involved in the senior functions that every senior gets to be in,” said Bullard.