By Grace Moore
The gathering is informal and the kids receive no credit for attending. They won’t be there every Wednesday, but the room has been made hospitable with a newspaper rack for the Wall Street Journal and the Casper Star Tribune as well as a television set to a national news station. The coffee is fresh and they have donuts.
The coffee club is not a formal class, but a time and place at the high school for students to meet every Wednesday morning for about 45 minutes before first bell, gird themselves for the day and think beyond the classroom.
Teacher Andrea Wood explains how she became involved. “I had a bunch of kids who had an interest in current events and really wanted to read the Wall Street Journal,” she says. As the teachers had voted to only let the kids have water during the day and no snacks outside of home room, she offered her room before class in the morning for them to talk and enjoy their coffee.
Sydney Stewart, Christian Nieto and Blane Kissack amble in around 7 a.m. and wake up with a cup of the good stuff as they sit down to watch the news, discuss what they’re seeing among themselves or simply contemplate the issues of the day. They talk about how the events being reported affect different concerns, including gun control and the stock market, which, in turn, will eventually affect them.
This morning, the group is watching the news as the announcer once again talks about the lives lost to those who use guns to kill. There is little in the way of conversation as the young men quietly drink their coffee and listen with sober attention.
Nieto likes listening to political discussions, “because I might go into politics, but I’m not sure”. Kissack enjoys reading the Wall Street Journal because, “I’m into the stock market, I’d like to get into that;” he grabs the paper as he passes.
Stewart expounds on the point of the club. “The main goal is just to get kids more involved with the news,” he says.
These three who come in every week are among the “founders” who started the coffee club for students at Moorcroft High School and are active in leading discussion and pushing each other to think beyond the small box of reality in which so many are content to remain. The gathering has, on occasion, consisted of around 15, but the founders are almost always there.
Wood posts the Wednesday morning coffee club on her board, so that, “If folks want to come, they can attend.”
The founders agree, Nieto says, that, “It’s good to have more than one opinion…Everyone kind of thinks alike here. They kind of think like their friends think.”
He would love to see the idea of the club spread. “We’ve had Senator [Ogden] Driskill, Tyler Lindholm and a few other businessmen come in so that would be pretty cool to have it in other schools,” he says. This morning, an active duty Marine named Storm Large will be visiting with the students about what veterans face in this country when they come home.
The questions asked by the young people show their attention to the issues beyond Moorcroft and Wood mentions that, “every person invited to talk with the kids has been impressed.”
The founders have been keeping their Wednesday morning routine for about a year and a half and would like to see it catch on with others at MHS after they graduate, but recognize that they are the exception to the rule in their need to know more.
Ultimately, explains Wood, these guys could be likened to the fellows who sit at the diner of a morning talking about this and that as they sip their “joe” before the day’s work begins. Nieto concurs.