By J. Scott Killen and Alex Buckley
While many folks in Atascadero have heard of the Atascadero Greyhound Foundation, including all of the wonderful work they perform in the community, very few know much about the LIGHTHOUSE Coffee Classroom that operates daily out of Atascadero Unified School District’s Paloma Creek High School.
As part of the LIGHTHOUSE Program established in 2012, LIGHTHOUSE Coffee strives to spread awareness, prevention, intervention, and education to combat drug and alcohol addiction in our hometown. The LIGHTHOUSE Coffee Classroom operates as a subsidiary to the LIGHTHOUSE Program, helping to fund our numerous campaigns against addiction, such as the Reality Tour and the LASER Program.
The LIGHTHOUSE Coffee Classroom is a small yet wonderful class. It is taught as a student business course where pupils actually run the business, selling locally roasted Joebella Coffee to raise money for the LIGHTHOUSE Program. All of our coffee is locally roasted, organic, and fair trade certified. As part of the partnership with Joebella, students market special blends of coffee made specifically for the LIGHTHOUSE Program, a dark roast, a medium roast, and “J-Cups” that fit in any Keurig. In the classroom itself, students work together to get things done in a consistent and professional manner, learning such essential skills as customer service, graphic design, daily business operations, marketing, and (of course) brewing coffee. They work hard to promote the LIGHTHOUSE Coffee cause, all while learning how to manage a small business along the way.
In education, this type of class is considered Project Based Learning, a teaching style where students learn by engaging in real-world projects that are meaningful to those involved. Like too many in our community, most LIGHTHOUSE Coffee students either know someone close who has been negatively affected by addiction or have been negatively impacted themselves. Thus, the projects students complete in the classroom setting are more than just grades on a paper, but meaningful ways to give back and do good every day.
Currently, the LIGHTHOUSE Coffee Classroom serves coffee and hot chocolate to the public at Paloma Creek High School on Tuesday and Thursday mornings between 8 to 9 a.m. We do public events in our trailer, like Light Up the Downtown and Winter Wonderland, and make almost all of our profits from donations and coffee bag orders. If you would like to support the LIGHTHOUSE Coffee Classroom, follow us on Instagram and Facebook, or you can always swing by Paloma Creek High School for a bag of our beans. The LIGHTHOUSE Coffee Classroom is “Coffee for a Cause,” and that cause is the betterment of our students, our community, and those in need of a light at the end of addiction.