Highland Park Students Run Dog Treat Bakery to Learn Math, Life Skills

Special needs students' catering business pivoted to selling dog treats during the pandemic

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Running a business isn't easy. The pandemic has forced many business owners to pivot to something new in the changing times.

That was the case for Scots Cafe, a catering company run out of a classroom in Highland Park High School.

In Ms. Cardenas' room, it's not just what you hear, but what you smell that draws you in. 

The pandemic made it harder to run the student business, but they couldn't close the kitchen. It taught basic life skills and math to these students who learn a little differently.

So they pivoted to pets.

"We had to make the recipe easy enough so all the students could learn it," teacher Yvette Cardenas said.

Each week the students plan, mix, bake and sell Scottie's Treats.... named after the school's mascot.

"It's my favorite thing to do too," said Sally Smith, a student in charge of quality control.

Each student has a job that helps them grow.

"I think it really shows the skills that every single person has and I just think it's a great opportunity to work as a team," student Caroline Beverly said. "It's going to give us great skills for when we leave too and prepare us for the next step."

Beverly is in charge of the books for the business. She said she's got her eyes set on college and a career as a teacher.

Seeing their drive is what keeps their teachers in this classroom over any other.

"You know what, it's just a passion," Cardenas said. "I always say it's a gift. We want to see all our young adults succeed."

You can find the treats online on the Scots Cafe Facebook page.

The students even convinced a local grocer to sell them. All the money goes into buying more supplies for the class.    

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