Coffee Cart program serves up chance for Steamboat students to share feelings |

Coffee Cart program serves up chance for Steamboat students to share feelings

The Coffee Cart program at Steamboat Springs High School will give students an opportunity to share feelings over coffee and conversation. (Courtesy photo)
Courtesy photo

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Walk into just about any classroom at Steamboat Springs High School and you will find textbooks, whiteboards, teachers and students eager to learn.

But hidden behind some of those learning tools, you will find students dealing with the stress, anxiety and pressure of today’s world. You will find students looking for ways to connect and share those feelings.

Thanks to a new Coffee Cart program at Steamboat Springs High School, students will now have an opportunity to share those feelings over coffee and conversation. It’s an idea that came from Highland Ranch High School, and was put forward by Michelle Petix, executive director of Partners in Routt County.

The 2019 Leadership Steamboat class took the idea and turned it into its annual project, a big piece of the program, which is sponsored by the Steamboat Springs Chamber. Leadership Steamboat members worked with the students in the Steamboat Springs High School leadership class to introduce the Coffee Cart concept to the high school last Wednesday.

During the next few weeks, the program will visit more classrooms and reach more students.

“Logistically, the kids felt really, really strongly that in order for it to work and to be successful, it needed to be peer-to-peer connections,” said Kari Faulk, who teaches the high school leadership class as well as language arts classes. “The idea is let’s put our phones down, let’s put our screens down and let’s put our books away and just take 15 minutes out of class to chat and to connect and put a smile on people’s faces.”

This year’s Leadership Steamboat Class started working on the idea of going into the high school and serving coffee last fall. Originally, the group had planned to send its own members into the school to serve the coffee with sleeves that had emotions printed on them. The idea is that the sleeves would break the ice and inspire the high school students to share their feelings in a positive way..

“Michlle Petix with Partners came to me, and she asked if I would present what the Highlands Ranch students had done. They had put together a Coffee Cart they called Check-in for Mental Health,” said Vic Walker, a member of the Leadership Steamboat class. “Mental health happened to be one of the top four or five topics that the leadership group was interested in. It resonated with me, and I felt that it would resonate with the rest of our class so I presented it, and sure enough, we ended up choosing it as our project.”


Visit to donate to the Coffee Cart. 

So Walker and the leadership group presented the idea to officials at the high school, and it was determined that the program would have a better chance for success if the adult leadership group switched to a supporting role and let the high school student leaders implement the idea.

“We provided the coffee cart and everything that goes with it,” Walker said. “We’ve been working with the Steamboat Springs High School leadership group to put everything together.”

The students serving the coffee have spent time with Partners learning active listening and attending skills. They also learned to engage in active, helpful conversations.

The Coffee Cart made its debut last Wednesday, and everybody involved felt the test run was a success.

“I was very, very, very happy,” Faulk said. “There was like this moment when the room sort of erupted in laughter and conversation, and you could just tell everybody was like, ‘Hey, this is nice,’ and that’s what we want.

“Sometimes it’s OK to take a break and relax, and we have so many kids dealing with stress and anxiety,” Faulk added.

Faulk said three classes are currently signed up for the Coffee Cart to visit their classrooms, and she expects that number to rise next week when the program is introduced to the staff. Faulk said teachers can schedule the Coffee Cart so that it does not interfere with the class plan and fits best with student interests.

She said she thinks the Coffee Cart program was a great idea, and she’s optimistic the high school leadership group will be able to carry it on in the future. She added that having the high school students work with the adults in Leadership Steamboat has also had a positive influence.

“It’s kind of cool that they realize that adults also study and learn about leadership and made a choice to take a leadership class, just like they did,” Faulk said.

The Leadership Steamboat group is currently fundraising for the project with hopes of raising enough money to ensure the program continues. Donations can be made at

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.