Duchesne’s Very Own Central Perk
In the 1990s, millions of Americans tuned in to NBC each week to watch a show about six friends who lived across the hall from one another and hung out at a coffee shop. The show, Friends, spawned a coffee culture. It became cool to hang out at coffee shop, work remotely, and socialize with friends. This year, Duchesne head of school Patricia Swenson brought the Friends magic to our school with the opening of Cha Cha’s Corner.
Named after our mascot, Cha Cha’s Corner is bustling with activity every period. Open to Duchesne upperclassmen from 7:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m., Cha Cha’s has become a living version of Friends on campus. Junior Ramsey Ruffeno noted that she spends, “most of [her] free periods at Cha Cha’s.” Junior Kim Kelly said she’s there “all the time.” Cha Cha’s even serves breakfast.
Thanks to Cha Cha’s barista Stephanie Kimbrough, Cha Cha’s has a crazy selection of drinks including lattes, mochas, smoothies, teas, and hot chocolate. A crowd favorite is the “Grace’s Drink” and the Very Berry Smoothie. Named for Cha Cha’s regular sophomore Grace Barry, the Grace’s Drink is a white mocha with whipped cream and caramel sauce. Sophomore Nia Brown also has her own drink. Sophomore Julianne Seller’s drink is the Pony Espresso. The chocolate muffins are trending.
Ms. Swenson pushed for Cha Cha’s corner as part of a greater wellness intuitive at Duchesne. Coffee reduces stress and encourages camaraderie. Swenson called it a “lively center for conversation” (just like Central Perk in Friends!).
I caught up with Cha Cha (also known as junior and St. Thomas cheerleader Ramsey Ruffeno) to ask some questions about her namesake coffee shop. We talked about her interest in Astros Mascot Orbit and what it’s like to have a popular on campus coffee shop named after you. Cha Cha took it in stride. She said that mascots are natural coffee drinkers to keep their energy up so naming the coffee shop after her made total sense. Cha Cha’s favorite drink is the iced hot chocolate.
Cha Cha’s Corner helps the Duchesne community come together. It gives the lower school something to look forward to (and encourages bonding when lower school girls ask the high schoolers to share some coffee – just kidding, this never happens, well, maybe once!). There’s no Gunther and no “smelly cat song,” but if you look hard enough you could find shades of the other Friends characters in the Duchesne students who frequent Cha Cha’s. Coffee culture lives at Duchesne – releasing stress and building community.
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