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WJH Opens “Starbooks”

Photo of WJH students at Starbooks Cafe At Waller Junior High (WJH), students are crowding the library for something other than books. Librarian Kimberly Perry has transformed the space into the Starbooks Cafe, a mixture of Starbucks and a bookstore.

Perry was inspired by a story online and decided to bring the cafe experience to WJH students. With the use of black tablecloths, green aprons, and the help of students, Starbooks was ready for its first customers.

“We live in a somewhat rural area and several of our students have never had the bookstore and Starbucks experience,” Perry said. “Students are learning the correct way to interact with one another in a cafe-type setting.”

Students visit the Starbooks Cafe during library rotations in English Language Arts classes. As students browse or read books, they can purchase snacks or drinks such as chips, popcorn, hot chocolate, and cappuccinos. The cafe is also open in the mornings before the start of school to serve as a break for students from classwork. Instead of technology, they’re encouraged to play board games and enjoy tech-free time with friends. Perry was initially hesitant to have food and drinks in the library, but she felt confident it was the right thing for kids and she was right.

“The best thing I have witnessed is the kindness of our WJH students,” Perry said. “From cleaning up after one another, carrying things for friends, and pitching in when someone doesn't have enough money. Our students really are the best!”

Perry is also using Starbooks as a learning experience for Gifted and Talented (GT) students. GT students helped calculate the cost of each item and keep track of the profits. They also look at which items are in high demand, requiring restocking, and which items are not as popular. The library purchased a majority of the inventory while H-E-B Fairfield Market donated $300 worth of snacks. WJH parent volunteer Priscilla Bean has also stepped up to help by donating more than 80 hours of her time as well as snacks.

“We couldn’t have pulled this off without the generous donation from Patty James at H-E-B and Mrs. Priscilla Bean,” Perry said.

The money raised by the Starbooks Cafe will go toward the purchase of new books, specifically graphic novels. Graphic novels are the library’s most popular books. Perry says they are constantly checked-out and students are submitting requests for more.

“Before I could not get students interested in certain non-fiction books but now that the information is presented in a graphic novel format, students are eager to read and learn,” Perry said.