Lattes, tea and breakfast items are on the menu every Friday at East Ascension High School’s Spartan Café, thanks to a $2,500 grant from the Ascension Fund.

Jessica Montgomery’s students run the café as a way to increase independence and job skills in students with disabilities, a news release said. Students sell the café’s treats to faculty and staff and make deliveries during first block on Friday mornings. Sales have increased every week since its launch.

“I like that I get to know new people and practice talking to them,” said Curtis Branch, a student who works in the café.

Montgomery and the students put in a lot of work to start the café from scratch, including buying equipment and choosing the items to sell, the recipes to use, the prices and the method of selling.

Students working in the café have learned about coffee beans, how to brew coffee and the different varieties of coffee drinks. All participating students have the opportunity to voice their opinions and take part in the decision-making process. Decisions often include a lesson, such as when a math lesson on profit, percentages and cost of items accompanied the decision on prices the café charges.

The various coffee drinks have been a new experience for many students, some of whom have begun making the drinks at home for their families.

Teacher Michelle Miller, a regular customer at the café, said, “I don’t have time to stop for coffee in the mornings, but on Friday I know that the Spartan Café has my back and I get a gourmet-type coffee delivered right to my classroom, and the students are always pleasant and seem to enjoy their jobs. Everything is always yummy.”

Funds for the grant were provided by the BASF Corp. Endowment Grant through the Ascension Fund.

The nonprofit Ascension Fund was founded by the Gonzales Rotary Club in 1991 to provide grants for innovative ideas and programs in Ascension Parish public schools.

The Ascension Fund awards teacher grants of $500 or $1,000 and school impact grants of $2,500 on an annual competitive basis. Visit ascensionfund.com for details.