More than a mug

ACP students bring smiles to MN's hallways with cups of coffee


Austin Uhlig

Peytan Schulte, Sports Editor

The smell of freshly-brewed coffee and the sound of a cart rolling fills the hallway. As the cart is pushed into the doorway of the classroom, a smile creeps on to everyone’s faces. Sophomore Ryan Bisignano punches the card and carefully fills the coffee to the brim of the mug. A warm exchange of thank you’s and goodbye’s fills the doorway, and they roll on to the next customer.

This is the heartwarming scene that comes along with the Mustang Mugs project. Mustang Mugs is a project in which Alternative Curriculum Program (ACP) students make coffee for teachers. Teachers who participate in the Mustang Mugs buy a punch card with 10 slots for $10. Teachers also get to buy a mug for $7 with a custom logo for the project printed on the cup. Teachers get the choice between coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.

This is the first year of the ACP program doing anything like this, and special needs teacher Nicole Torralbas had a big part in setting it up.

“The purpose of our coffee cart or Mustang Mug project is we are trying to teach job skills to our students and also trying to spread that positivity and acceptance of people with disabilities in the school building,” Torralbas said.

The feedback for the ACP students has all been positive so far, as they have enjoyed walking around the school and brightening the mornings of teachers.

“[It makes me] happy. It’s fun; it’s exercise,” senior Kaleigh Hamrick said.

Teachers that chose to participate have not been disappointed in their decision either. Spanish teacher Angela Lallman has an ACP child at home and she said it didn’t take much thinking to support Mustang Mugs.

“I love supporting the ACP kiddos. Any time I can give my students exposure to that world, I want to do it,” Lallman said.

Overall, the whole experience has benefited all parties, both those involved and those watching.

“For the [special education] students, it promotes independence and doing a job or a skill within the community, which at some point they will have to do. [For teachers] it boosts morale and it’s something positive in the day,” Lallman said. “I think, too, it benefits my students in this room because they are watching the ACP kids learn and interact and both worlds are kind of coming together.”

As Mustang Mugs progresses, the ACP students and teachers are going to keep serving their coffee with a smile.

“We are just excited to move forward with it and we are happy that we have teachers that have enjoyed it so far. We would just like to continue to work at it and see what else we can bring to the table,” Torralbas said.