When Emerald Ray first began at Hoggard High School five years ago, the Specially Designed Academics (SDA) teacher quickly noticed a common need amongst her students. Upon graduation, many struggled to find work without any first-hand experience. Looking for a way to combat this challenge, the teacher created the innovative Vike City Java, a coffee shop run entirely by the SDA program within Hoggard.
Ray established a partnership with Port City Java, and the local business helped bring her vision to fruition. Port City Java donated supplies, professional brewing equipment, and business advice. Today, Vike City Java is a successful start-up run entirely by Hoggard’s SDA program staff and students. The program is a beacon of innovation and entrepreneurship throughout the district. In addition to serving up hot beverages, the program works to dismantle social stigmas surrounding students with disabilities.
The business is a well-loved staple at Hoggard, and reviews on Vike City Java’s website will leave you craving a cup of joe. Like many other small businesses throughout our community, COVID-19 has shifted how the staff and students work. In the past, students hand-delivered orders to classrooms across campus on Fridays. Now Viking staff place their orders through Google Forms, and the requests are presented on a slideshow for students to organize. After a quality check, the coffee is transported to the staff lounge, where teachers can pick up their beverages conveniently. The profits earned from the coffee business, Vike City Java, continue to support the SDA program and the students it serves, allowing the opportunity for inclusion and growth for all students.