Sarah Shreffler, sec­retary, Emily Kimball, treasure, and Breanna Bildner, pres­ident, are all seniors involved with The Study Cup. Collegian|Sofia Krusmark

Seven years ago, a simple idea-pitch at a football game ignited the beginning of a thriving student-run coffee shop which now has 70 student baristas and pro­vides a place for stu­dents to gain prac­tical expe­rience and fundraise for their pro­grams.

The shop orig­i­nally began as an oppor­tunity for Hillsdale High School’s Business Pro­fes­sionals of America chapter to earn money for events and com­pe­ti­tions. Emma Woods, parent of Hillsdale High School stu­dents and a Hillsdale High School ’88 graduate, ini­tially pre­sented the idea to Mindy Eggleston, the BPA faculty adviser.

“I had this idea because stu­dents had to pay for their com­pe­ti­tions,” Woods said. “I thought starting a business for the school meant that the stu­dents could actually work and spend money for them­selves on this trip. It was kind of a win-win, and we just took off running with it.”

The idea took off in 2012 and Eggleston said every­thing quickly fell into place.

“We wrote a business plan with the kids back in 2012 and it cost us about $21,000 to build it and get the equipment,” Eggleston said. “We wrote some grants and we also were able to take out a loan. We quickly paid it back and every­thing since 2013 has been profit for the kids. We now invest the money solely in the program.”

Up until then, the local chapter of Business Pro­fes­sionals of America only had 22 members. Now, the club has grown to over 70 members in the high school chapter and 21 stu­dents in the middle school chapter. Eggleston said the chapter aims to build essential inter­per­sonal and pro­fes­sional skills for their future careers.

“I like them to have good com­mu­ni­cation skills, con­fi­dence, cus­tomer service, and I like them to be able to count change back and accept dif­ferent forms of payment,” Eggleston said. “This oppor­tunity def­i­nitely makes the kids employable and they also have barista skills. They can make any­thing.”

A “showcase” of Hillsdale High School, Eggleston said the Study Cup is an essential stop when showing new stu­dents and parents the school.  The shop is open every day before and after school. Serving the “good stuff,” the shop orders their coffee from Checker Records and pur­chases their snacks from Sam’s Club.

Typ­i­cally, eight to ten people run the shifts, as each member of BPA is required to work at the Study Cup. Emily Kimball, senior and current trea­surer of BPA, said the kitchen craze has improved their com­mu­ni­cation with one another.

“There’s someone who runs the cash reg­ister, washing dishes, making cold drinks, warm drinks, and cleaning off the tables,” Kimball said. “Com­mu­ni­cation is really important in an envi­ronment like this. If I need a Gatorade, and I don’t tell the person behind that to get the Gatorade, then the cus­tomer isn’t going to get the Gatorade.”

High School Senior Breanna Bildner, pres­ident of the BPA, said Study Cup has com­pletely changed her “freshman-year self.”

“Most of all, I’ve learned lead­ership,” Bildner said. “Freshman year, I was really shy, and I wasn’t a big leader.  Now I’m a senior, and this year I ended up being pres­ident of BPA. I’ve learned how to connect with all the members and make sure that everyone’s heard with all their ques­tions, con­cerns, and ideas.”

But the stu­dents aren’t limited to the mere 40-minute shifts in the morning or afternoon. When the shop opened, Eggleston ini­tiated an inde­pendent study where various stu­dents learned and worked as the Study Cup manager.

“First off, I knew I couldn’t do it on my own,” Eggleston said. “And second off, I really wanted it to be a true, student-run business. They do payroll, ordering, I have them come up with mar­keting mate­rials, or they might have to do some certain cleaning that they can’t do during a shift.”  

Aside from the shop being every­thing she hoped it would be, Woods said the shop gives direction to various stu­dents.

“The vast amount of jobs that are available is kind of over­whelming to kids,” Woods said. “The more skills that these kids are exposed to, the more they can figure out what they want to do in life, or if they like entre­pre­neurship. Two of my three kids so far have majored in the similar skills that they were exposed to at BPA.”

Most impor­tantly, Eggleston praises the “depend­ability, punc­tu­ality, kindness, and coop­er­ation” of the stu­dents.

“I’m just really proud of it,” Eggleston said. “The kids impress me everyday.”