WJHS Unveils New ‘Wildcat Cafe’ Experience

West Johnston High students take a group photo using the photo booth at the unveiling of the new Wildcat Cafe experience.

West Johnston High School unveiled the school’s new vision for the Wildcat Cafe to its students and staff on Friday, Feb. 14.

The school held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the new cafeteria experience, which focuses on reshaping how students and staff view their school cafeteria.

“This is a chance for our students and cafeteria staff to collaborate and form a great, positive culture in the cafeteria,” said West Johnston High Assistant Principal Chris Lattimer. “We want to create an environment where kids don’t just go to the cafeteria to eat. They can go there and have fun with their friends.”

The school nutrition staff’s goal for the re-imagining of the Wildcat Cafe is for it to be student-led. Students have formed The Wildcat Cafe Committee to coordinate monthly entertainment events, which will include band performances, karaoke, open mic, and dance.

“At West Johnston we have a small community where many of us already know one another,” said Victor Garcia, West Johnston High student and Wildcat Cafe Committee Member. “The Wildcat Cafe allows us to come together and be a part of something much larger.”

The student committee plans to invite students interested in performing to apply online. All candidates’ performances will be approved by the committee.

The March Wildcat Cafe event plans to feature dance, band, and choir performances. The cafe will close out April and May with open mic lunches.

“I’m super excited about this opportunity,” said Brianna Busigo Pellati. “This gives us the chance to express ourselves in front of our classmates, and it may even bring more of us together at lunch.”

School Nutrition staff pose together at the ribbon cutting of the Wildcat Cafe. On the front row is School Nutrition Assistant Janaria Stevens. On the second row (from left) are School Nutrition Assistant Tina Williams, School Nutrition Supervisor of Menus and Special Diets Jamie Narron, School Nutrition Manager Michelle Baker, School Nutrition Assistant Pam Smith, and School Nutrition Assistant Evelyn Monk.

In preparation for the debut, the committee and staff worked to make the Wildcat Cafe more inviting on a daily basis. The cafeteria is decorated with artwork, and peppy music plays throughout the space. Inspirational quotes provide food for thought on the serving lines, servers invite customers to try samples, and occasionally patrons are invited to participate in games for prizes.

“I love what I do. I love to cook, and I love to make it the best it can be. I want our kids to have a place where they can eat, relax, and enjoy themselves,” said West Johnston High School Nutrition Manager Michelle Baker.

The staff hopes to make the cafe a more attractive and comfortable place for everyone. They are even inviting student feedback for the dietitian, so students may have a voice in steering their future menu options.

“This is a place where students can come build relationships and get to know their neighbor, but at the same time they can enjoy a nutritious meal so when they are ready to go back to class they are ready to learn,” said Johnston County Public Schools School Nutrition Supervisor of Menus and Special Diets Jamie Narron.