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South High School Students Problem Solve with Community Grounds Coffee & Meeting House

four students standing shoulder to shoulder in front of patterned artwork

April 12, 2024 – Art class at South High School is more than drawing and painting. Along with these skills that one typically imagines when they think of art class, students at South are learning what art teacher Al Venturella calls ‘the soft skills.’

“We are expanding our skills [to include] research, artistic thought, thinking outside of the box, and working with others,” Venturella explained. “It’s these cross-curricular skills that we are building.”

Venturella sets up various projects throughout the year to give students the chance to develop these soft skills. For their most recent project, students teamed up with Community Grounds: Coffee & Meeting House, a Columbus-born coffee shop just around the corner from their school. 

Community Grounds presented students with a business objective. They want their coffee shop to grow within the competitive Columbus market and sought to hear the students’ ideas on how they could do that. Venturella saw this as an opportunity for the students to experience local marketing and test different advertising strategies. 

“Our class went to visit Community Grounds, where we learned about their problems and their business from them,” Venturella said. “It’s really neat for our students to have an opportunity to figure out how they can help.”

Jasper Carse, a sophomore at South, was one of the students who created a proposal to increase Community Grounds’ popularity around the city. Before presenting their idea, Carse learned more about what caffeine consumers in Columbus value and ensured their solution was backed by concrete evidence. To facilitate this research, Venturella took Carse and their fellow students to The Ohio State University (OSU). While on campus, Carse spoke with university students about what elements of coffee shops they like and dislike. 

For Carse, this was more than just a chance to learn about OSU students' caffeine habits.

“I’m not used to going up to strangers and talking to them, so I got to practice that [at Ohio State,]” Carse said. “I used to be bad at speaking, but I would like to think that I’ve become a lot better at it. This was a nice practice.”

After the Ohio State visit, Carse and their team proposed expanding the coffee shop’s business. Feedback from their time at Ohio State sparked an idea in Carse and their team. As an artist, Carse used their unique talent to create a mascot for Community Grounds – a hummingbird dressed like a barista. 

“I and other people said that it’s good to match a business with a face. I think having a mascot will be a very simple way to go about that,” Carse said. “Even something as small as stickers [with the mascot] would be an incredible form of promotion and super useful for Community Grounds.”

After several weeks of work, Venturella’s class presented their ideas to the owners of Community Grounds. Despite their nerves about public speaking, Carse gave an insightful and informative presentation about the mascot their group created for Community Grounds. 

Each of the students’ ideas were well-received by the founders of Community Grounds, and Venturella said they are excited to continue exposing students to project-based learning opportunities like this one. 

“I really think this type of learning is pivotal to their development as human beings,” Venturella said. “They’re learning all of these different skills. This is a great group of kids, and I’m really proud of them.”

Power of One

Priority 1 - Whole Child FocusedPriority 2 - Equitable Opportunities for AllPriority 3 - Strong Learning Communities in Every RegionPriority 4 - Authentic EngagementPortrait Attribute 1 - AdaptabilityPortrait Attribute 2 - CommunicationPortrait Attribute 3 - CreativityPortrait Attribute 4 - Critical ThinkingPortrait Attribute 5 - Global EmpathyPortrait Attribute 6 - Technology