D211 Post: Cougar Perk Returns In a Modified Way

           For more than a decade, one thing staff at James B. Conant High School could count on was the presence of the student run bakery Cougar Perk during the spring semester.  Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 season of the café was cut short. 

            In early February, instructors of Conant’s Practices in Entrepreneurship announced that Cougar Perk would be returning in a modified capacity.

            “We are pick-up only,” said Conant High School Family and Consumer Science teacher Jackie Brown. “We don’t have our normal cafeteria set-up.”


            Brown added that due to reduced class sizes to accommodate hybrid learning, Cougar Perk is currently offering a smaller selection.

            Senior Elizabeth Gonzalez, who has been a part of Cougar Perk for the past three years said the different set-up has had an impact, but she still enjoys it.

            “It’s been a little bit slower for our business,” she said.  “We usually have people lined up out the door.  It may be slower now, but I still really enjoy it.”

            Brown said that one aspect of the new set-up did not require any adjustments.

            “We typically follow very strict sanitation guidelines regularly,” she said.  “Because we have always done that, we were already used to the new rules.”

            The response to Cougar Perk’s return in the halls of CHS has been overwhelmingly positive.

            “People are so happy to have us back,” Brown said.  “While we may not be completely back to normal, everyone has been glad to have something from a normal school year back.”

D211 Post: PHS Student-Run Café Provides “A Latte Sweets” and Savory Treats

Students enrolled in Palatine High School’s Practice in Entrepreneurship class, work in the student-run A Latte Sweets cafe.

            The Palatine High School student-run A Latte Sweets Café held its grand-opening in the school’s media center Feb. 23.  This year marks the café’s seventh operating in the school and second in the recently refurbished media center. 

            Emily Pilguy, the Family Consumer Science teacher who supervises the café said running the café in the media center has helped a lot.

Palatine High School Teacher Emily Pilguy, faculty advisor to the student run A Latte Sweets Cafe, observes students filling orders during the cafe’s 2018 grand opening.

            “We used to work outside of the concession stand by the basketball courts,” she said.  “This café has been a huge help.  It makes us look modern and is a good draw for the rest of the students.”

            Pilguy, who is also an alumna of Palatine High School, said the students are enrolled the school’s Practices in Entrepreneurship course.  She said preparation for each week’s menu begins Wednesday with sorting dry ingredients.  On Fridays, students arrive at 6 a.m. to begin baking.

            The café serves as a draw for students looking to socialize prior to the start of the school day. 

            “It’s nice to get caught up with friends,” said junior Gisselle Neri-Martinez.  “We all have different classes and usually don’t get to see each other very much.”

            Neri-Martinez added she enjoys the café’s French toast, while her friend, Olivia Murphy, said the mocha is what brings her back.

A group of Palatine High School students socialize at the student-run A Latte Sweets Cafe in the school’s media center.

            One item added this year was a vegan omelet complete with a vegan cheese sauce.  Senior Carolina Fragoso said having the vegan option drew her in.

            The Latte Sweets Café will operate Fridays from 7:15-8:05 a.m.  Pilguy said the Friday prior to spring break the café plans to debut cold beverages including iced coffees and lemonade.

Carolina Fragoso, a senior at Palatine High School, orders a vegan omelet during the 2018 grand opening of the student run A Latte Sweets Cafe. Fragoso said she was excited by the addition of a vegan option.

SHS Students Prep for 11th Annual Charity Soup Lunch

Each year, the classroom is turned into a "winter wonderland," by the fashion classes to accommodate the large event.

Each year, the classroom is turned into a “winter wonderland,” by the fashion classes to accommodate the large event.

Students in Schaumburg High School’s Chemistry of Foods and Practices in Entrepreneurship (P.I.E.) are preparing for the are hosting the 11th annual Charity Soup Lunch to benefit the SHS Blessings in a Backpack project and the SHS Magic Closet.

The soup lunch will take place on Dec. 12, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:45 p.m., in room 23. Attendees are asked to donate five or more “approved,” non-perishable food donations for the Blessings in a Backpack project or a gift card for clothing and/or household necessities to be donated to the SHS Magic Closet will be collected in exchange for a bottomless soup. This event is open to District 211 but is not open to the public.

Selections include Cream of Chicken w/ Wild Rice, French Onion, Creamy Mushroom, Pasta e Fagioli, Tuscan Sausage and Potato, Split Pea, Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper, New England clam chowder, Broccoli Cheese, Chipotle Sweet Potato and Turkey Tortilla.  There will also be trays of fresh baked dinner rolls, zucchini, focaccia and Italian breads, cookies, lemon bars, pumpkin squares and brownies.  Drink selections include iced tea, lemonade and coffee.

In the past 10 years thousands of items have been donated to Toys-4-Tots (pre- 2009), Elgin Community Crisis Center (pre-2013), Blessings in a Backpack and the Magic Closet.  Approximately 225 guests have attended the event in each of the last 7 years.  Because of the size of the event and the amount of food to be prepared, the Fashion classes are challenged with the task each year to transform the classrooms into a “Winter Wonderland.”

For the past six years, the Department of Agriculture has awarded the event a grant that pays for about half of food ingredients purchased.  In exchange, students in the Chemistry of Foods classes participate in a unit on small farming & sustainability, as well as study food safety throughout our food chain.  Flyers will be displayed to lunch-goers on how they can get involved in the “small food” movement.

For more information, please contact Kerry Frost at kfrost@d211.org.


Schaumburg High School Charity Soup Event Provides Tasty Way to Give Back to Community

Classrooms were transformed into “Winter Wonderland” seating areas for guests to eat.

Each year, Schaumburg High School’s Chemistry of Foods classroom is transformed into a charitable restaurant that serves hearty homemade soups for a cause.

Students, staff, and some community members attended the ninth annual Chemistry of Foods and Cool Beans Soup Charity Event on Nov. 30. All donations benefited the Elgin Community Crisis Center and the SHS Magic Closet. Each year, the popular event draws more than 200 people.

“The average person—a student, teacher, parent—can help others,” said Ken Turner, science and Chemistry of Foods teacher. “They can make a difference by participating in the event, and there are a lot of people who will benefit from this.”

Senior Amanda Sigler serves turkey tortilla soup.

Students in Practices in Entrepreneurship wore their Cool Beans t-shirts during the event. Junior Crystal Ayala worked Cool Bean’s Friday morning cafe, and then worked the charity event during school hours.

Students in Chemistry of Foods and Practices in Entrepreneurship (P.I.E.) prepared all the food. There were 10 different types of soups available for those who donated teenage appropriate gifts to the charity. The portions were unlimited, and there were trays of fresh-baked dinner rolls, zucchini, focaccia and Italian breads, cookies, lemon bars, and brownies.  Drink selections included iced tea, lemonade, and coffee.

In previous years, the soup event benefitted Toys 4 Tots. For the Elgin Community Crisis Center, individuals brought practical items for teenagers, such as clothing, blankets, gift cards, sports gear, and beauty products.

“I like that we give back to the community,” said senior Shannon LaRoy who will study culinary arts at Kendall College in the fall. “Everyone comes and is so nice.”

This is one of the many decorations put together by Fashion students at Schaumburg High School.

Other students were also involved in the event. Fashion classes and FCCLA fashion and culinary chapters at Schaumburg High Schools transformed the foods classrooms into a “Winter Wonderland” seating area. The decorations included a glowing fireplace made out of paper, icicle lights, and snowflakes hanging from the ceiling. Alumni came to help with the event, as well.

“I came back because it’s a great experience and I think it’s amazing we can give away so many things to people who need it,” said Amanda Cleys, a 2012 Schaumburg High School graduate.

The idea originated from Family and Consumer Sciences teacher Kerry Frost. Frost said she knew she wanted to give back to the community somehow, and decided to find a way to do it. The first class involved in the event was asked what would be a great charity meal. Student suggested café style eating, and from there the soup event evolved. Through grants from the Cook County Farm Bureau and help from Schaumburg High School, they are able to continue the charity event year after year.

Guests line up to try various homemade soups. Some already knew their favorite, while others saved room to try as many as possible.

“The students love to work this event,” Frost said. “Even the ones who are unsure about spending all day in one class, once they see the event in action, they can’t believe how much they enjoy it.”

Frost and Turner both said this event wouldn’t be possible without the overall efforts of the Schaumburg High School community, the Cook County Farm Bureau, and of course, the students.

“It’s a lot more work than what our students are normally used to during restaurant days,” Turner said, “but at the end of the day after everything is cleaned up, while they might have an ache in their leg they also have a warm feeling in their hearts knowing that their efforts made a difference in someone’s life.”