2017-05-28 / Insight

‘The Bronco Brew’ teaches business skills to North Branch students

BY NICHOLAS PUGLIESE
810-452-2601 • npugliese@mihomepaper.com


North Branch High School junior Shelby McKenney will continue what seniors Madee Miner and Isabella Navarro have helped establish with Bronco Brew. Half of Bronco Brew’s current crew is graduating, McKenney and others are determined to keep the café going for years to come. North Branch High School junior Shelby McKenney will continue what seniors Madee Miner and Isabella Navarro have helped establish with Bronco Brew. Half of Bronco Brew’s current crew is graduating, McKenney and others are determined to keep the café going for years to come. NORTH BRANCH — There’s no substitute for getting your hands dirty, whether it’s literal or figurative, and students in Connie Anderson’s umbrella of business related classes have been getting their hands dirty with coffee grounds.

The Bronco Brew, a new student-run coffee shop located within North Branch High School, is in its first month of operation, providing high schoolers, faculty and administration with a traditional coffee shop experience right in the middle of the school. Since May 4, Bronco Brew has been serving the high school population with coffee, cappuccino, espresso and smoothies, all produced by

Anderson’s Business

Professionals of

America (BPA) students, and as the teenagers and adults in the building attest, the sky is truly the limit.

“The whole thing was the brainchild of the students,” said North Branch Board of Education president Cory Mabery.

“As a business owner myself, I know that with any business, big or small, you go through the same steps, and it’s a lot of work.”

Under Anderson’s guidance, that work — from planning, to branding, to advertisement, marketing and execution — is completely student-led. Currently Bronco Brew “employs” a dozen students, most of whom have become certified baristas, meaning they’re acquiring real-world credentials that will provide an advantage after graduation.

The café is only open on Thursday of each week, but Anderson and the students said they have hopes and plans to expand operation next school year.


The Bronco Brew in North Branch High School employs a dozen students. The Bronco Brew in North Branch High School employs a dozen students. “As a school board, it was very easy saying yes (to the project) with the amount of work (Anderson and the students) put into it,” said board vice-president Daniel Deshetsky. The café was constructed over the course of the school year, requiring the installation of sinks, storage and counter space.

“I enjoy it for the practical experience and the people skills,” said junior Stephanie Howard. “We’re making something new.”

While studying abstract concepts in class has its benefits to provide students a base of knowledge from which they can grow, Bronco Brew team members under Anderson’s tutelage are finding there is no substitute for the real business experience gained slinging coffee to classmates and teachers. In addition to the nuts and bolts of business operation, students involved in Bronco Brew say they find themselves more confident and more able to shoulder the considerable accountability required of them.


North Branch High School business teacher and Business Professionals of America club advisor and mentor Connie Anderson oversees the students as they handle the day-to-day operations of Bronco Brew. 
Photo by Nicholas Pugliese North Branch High School business teacher and Business Professionals of America club advisor and mentor Connie Anderson oversees the students as they handle the day-to-day operations of Bronco Brew. Photo by Nicholas Pugliese “It’s a lot of responsibility,” said junior Shelby McKenney. “It’s a lot more responsibility to actually have a business than to just talk about it (in class).”

In the works for much of this school year, the opening of Bronco Brew has made an immediate impact on the daily lives of all students in North Branch High School. In its first day of operation, the tiny café — seating is limited to around 15, and it’s barely larger than a utility closet —earned $519 in revenue. The very next week, that figure jumped to $678, followed by the third week’s earnings of $985. “It’s outstanding,” said North Branch Superintendent Jim Fish of Bronco Brew’s successful beginning. “Their profits will go to support them next year.”

The goal, said BPA student president and departing senior Isabella Navarro, is to achieve 50 percent profitability, and with steadily increasing revenue, that goal is attainable. “Each week we get a little better,” said Navarro.

Anderson said that perhaps the greatest challenge facing the longevity of Bronco Brew is consistent staffing, largely threatened by graduation. “We have six seniors that are leaving us this year,” she said. “If we want to grow, we’ll need the next class to step up.”

Despite losing half the current Bronco Brew crew, Anderson and the students returning next year are confident they’ll be able to keep it going, and are already excited to be planning for next year. “It really lends itself all the way around from business to marketing and accounting,” said Anderson. “Sometimes you just need the practicality that goes along with the classroom learning.”

Return to top

Copyright © 2009-2018 The County Press, All Rights Reserved

Click here for the E-Edition
2017-05-28 digital edition

Unrestricted access available to web site subscribers

Subscribers to the County Press newspaper can now purchase the complete online and E-Edition of the paper for as little as $5 for three months. If you want a six month subscription to the online edition it is $10 and a full year can be purchased for $20.

Non-subscribers can sign up for the online version for $15 for three months, $30 for six months and $60 for an annual subscription.