ESTABLISHING itself as one of the more advanced schools in the Latrobe Valley, Lowanna College in Newborough continues to go above and beyond.

Earlier in the year, the secondary school made an overhaul of the canteen, by offering healthier alternatives, which not only encourages healthy habits, but also goes hand-in-hand with the sport academy at the college.

Now, in addition to the canteen, Lowanna College has completed the installation of a café on the premises, which offers many different uses for students at the school.

“We’ve completely reconceptualised the canteen. About six months ago we took over from the canteen as an internally run operation from our previous external provider, and we hired our own staff,” Lowanna College Principal, Adam Hogan said.

“The vision has always been to be able to provide food for students that’s both healthy and locally made, but also affordable.

“Some advantages of running the canteen is that we don’t aim, or need, to make a profit – we just cover the costs of the operation.”

New staff for the canteen was appointed before the new canteen was opened, which allowed for staff to get the opinions of students in terms of what they would like to see in the new-look facility.

The new range of food includes the likes of chicken wraps, butter chicken, and souvlakis, after the decision to remove deep-fried food was made.

A nutritionist has worked with the Sports Academy to decide what might be best for student athletes, which includes a range of high-protein foods.

On Wednesday, June 26, Lowanna College had the grand opening of the café, inviting guests who helped with the project to launch it.

Managing the build was Lowanna College Principal, Adam Hogan, and business manager, Angela Skinner, while Jo Daly of Daly Living and Strini Builders managed the build and design process.

The café was the brainchild of Mr Hogan, who “randomly” thought of the idea whilst looking at the space with some students.

After getting some opinions from students, many agreed that it would be a good fit, and the project was underway.

The students, including school captains Stephanie Nowell, Brooke Hunter, Oakley Vickery-Howe, and Lachlan Wallace, had a huge say in the project, which extends Lowanna College’s mantra on including students in some decision-making processes.

“A lot of students around the school had a bit of involvement for things like who can use it and what it kind of looks like,” Oakley said.

“We had a pretty big idea on what it would look like, we took a fair bit of inspiration from Danbo’s (Coffee, Newborough) around the corner I’m pretty sure,” Lachlan added.

“We had a couple of meeting about it and talked about what it would look like and the kind of vibe we’d have around it – which came out perfectly and exactly how we imagined as well.”

Modern: The cafe’s interior gives a different feel from the classroom for the sake of the students and staff. Photograph: Tom Hayes

The café will be run by Lowanna College Canteen Manager, Jodie, and her Canteen Assistant, Marcelle, who has introduced a range of healthier food options alongside Latrobe Community Health Services (LCHS).

LCHS has worked with the Wellbeing Team at Lowanna College to also bring healthier options to the college, as part of the Achievement Program. Elise Tulloch from LCHS joined in on the celebrations on the day.

Local business, Fat Cat Coffee Roasters will be supplying the coffee beans for the café and were in attendance for the unveiling.

The café has been restricted to just staff and Year 12 students at this stage, with access only possible via a “tap card” system.

The café is available from 8am until 3.30pm, and students will be able to use this space during recess, lunch and student periods.

“It’s really about privileging the space for staff and students, so we still have an incredible drive for numeracy, literacy, and building classroom practise, but there’s much more to school than just those outcomes,” Mr Hogan said.

“We wanted something that fits in with the school but feels different when you’re in there.”

Mr Hogan also added that the nature of the space allows students and teachers to get a different feel to that of a classroom.

“We have three staff (working) in there, but we also have students supporting, and we’re really proud of that watching students serving other students,” Mr Hogan added.

“So we can build their skills through things like barista courses, but it also helps us in the canteen when you’ve got that recess and lunch rush, and you need people to clear people through quickly.”

Other stakeholders in attendance included Latrobe City Councillor, Sharon Gibson, School Council President, David Osbourne, Lowanna College’s Executive Team, and Department of Education’s Andrew Eastcott.