Dayton School District is focused on creating educational opportunities for their students that combine important industry skills with the creativity, passion, and grit of their students. These opportunities are giving students an outlet to work on projects that are important and inspiring to them.

This year, Dayton School District began setting up a new coffee shack inside of the school’s commons area after receiving a Gear UP grant to fund a student-lead business. Like the one built and operated in 2008, it is called Captain Jack’s Java Shack. Dayton High School teacher Dave Fluke is leading the opening of the coffee shack and it will be a student-conducted business that offers volunteer opportunities as well as training for students to receive their food handlers licenses.

Students at barista training in the high school

Captain Jack’s Java Shack will not only train students how to effectively handle food and give them volunteer opportunities, but allow them

to see business management from different job perspectives, build analysis skills, work as a team, and strengthen their work ethic. According to Mr. Fluke: “Our ultimate goal is to give our students anything that can benefit them when they leave us.” In doing so, these students will receive an advantage in the work industry right out of high school.

As of right now, the coffee shack is still in development — despite this, a number of students have already applied to work as volunteers once the coffee shack is ready to hire. But one student in particular has already become a very big part of its creation by designing the new Captain Jack’s Java Shack logo. Her name is Madisyn Wissenger.

Madisyn is a senior at Dayton this year, after moving to the community from a different town. Years ago, she lived in Dayton but moved away during her fourth grade year. Last year, she decided that she wanted to move back to Dayton. Old friends and the tight knit community she remembered so fondly drew her back. But later, she found that there was more to the community than just her fond memories — it was the greater opportunities she knew Dayton could offer her.

One day in class, Mr. Fluke asked for a student volunteer to help design the logo of Captain Jack’s Java Shack. With a keen interest in art as well as graphic design, Madisyn took on the job happily. She says: “I had a real opportunity to make something for a real business.” She explained that those opportunities were so much more available for her at Dayton, due to the possibilities for students to involve themselves inside of the school as well as the community. “I’m always looking for opportunities to try something new. I don’t like being associated with one thing.” She said.

For students like Madisyn with a wide variety of interests and skills, these unique creative opportunities can make a powerful difference in their learning experience. When given the chance to apply their interests and skills to real life projects that involve the industry outside of high school, it adds a new element of motivation and validation to their work.

Learning how to work the espresso machine

Innovative education at Dayton has advanced in the last decade, which is opening the door to the possibility of in-school collaboration with the coffee shack. Mr. Fluke says: “I think it [the java shack] will naturally meld into the whole school. It already has the potential to connect with areas of technology and the culinary classes.” This interconnectedness is a big part of Dayton School District’s culture, which will make the new Captain Jack’s Java Shack better than ever before.

Dayton High School’s close community combined with the school’s eager student volunteers with unique ideas and skills, are opening new doors of opportunity. These opportunities will allow students to experience team-based independent projects, such as the coffee shack, that will give them important skills to take with them as they enter the work world.


The Captain Jack’s Java Shack logo by Madisyn Wissinger

Bevin Schrag Administrator

Bevin Schrag is a writer for Innovate Oregon. While working in social media and marketing at OnlineNW, she is currently studying the arts at Chemeketa Community College, to later become a media designer.