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Eagle Way Café Flies High With Students From CBVI Airport Program

student working at eagle way cafe Jan. 14, 2021 – In past years, it has not been uncommon to see eagles at the airport. No, not the birds in the sky flying near the planes. But Northview High School students—home of the Eagles—learning new skills.

Many students at Northview have learned valuable skills while working at the school’s Eagle Way Café. For some, it’s a prerequisite to moving on to the CBVI (Community Based Vocational Instruction) program normally housed at St. Louis Lambert Airport. Typically, at the Eagle Way Café, students learn about food safety, food preparation, and cooking. Then, after a year at the Café, they may move to the CBVI program at the airport where they continue working in food service, but with more work and less hands-on instruction.

“The work at the airport is much more independent,” said Selina Loughridge, who has taught CBVI students there for five years. “We check on them and work with their supervisors, but they are much more on their own there. They go through security on their own, make sure they keep to their schedules. They really are much more independent there.”

But with COVID-19 restrictions, the students who would normally be learning skills at the airport are back at the Eagle Way Café.

“It’s been fun having them here,” said Sarah Weinman, who teaches at the café. “Most of my students are virtual, so it’s all just another chance to learn in a different way.”

Two students, Jordan and Christian, would normally be taking part in their second year of CBVI training and classes at the airport this year. And like most people, they’re doing their best to deal with the unexpected changes that have taken place.

“At the airport, I would make hamburgers and fries and wash dishes, and some other things,” Jordan said while participating in class via video. “But mostly I miss the lunches,” he said, referring to the perk students get of being able to have a free lunch from one of the many restaurants at the airport.

After watching Christian work on a meal preparation lesson, Jordan switched his video over to watch Weinman teaching a lesson on working the grill. All lessons are recorded so that if any students have technical difficulty, or are unable to watch when they are happening live, then they can be accessed at a later time.

“The hardest part was finding where to store all the videos on my computer,” Weinman joked. “For virtual learning, we’ve had to adapt. For example, we can have a camera on the grill, a camera on the fryer, and a camera on the cashier so that the students participating virtually can learn all of the jobs.”

Although the experience isn’t exactly the same for the CBVI students who would normally be at the airport, they will be prepared for when they can return. “It takes a while to get in shape and used to the work conditions of standing for long stretches of time and wearing the uniform every day,” said Loughridge. “But when they do go back, they’ll be ready!”

Christian gives credit to his teachers for doing a good job in how they have been able to adapt the Eagle Way Café into a comparable worksite to his time at the airport. “I’m just at school more and not at the airport,” he said while prepping individual cups of pickles to garnish that day’s menu item.

Weinman said that they are ready for whatever happens next at the Eagle Way Café. “We’ll be strategic. We have a plan A. And if that doesn’t work, we’ll go to plan B.”