From left, Rising Stars Academy students Josh Goodwin, of Harrison Township; Malik Mayes, of Southfield; school founder Mark Prentiss; Arneishia Williams, of Fraser; and Ameena Albweitzel, of  Warren, practice making latte foam art April 15  at Lucky Detroit Espresso & Coffee in Detroit.

From left, Rising Stars Academy students Josh Goodwin, of Harrison Township; Malik Mayes, of Southfield; school founder Mark Prentiss; Arneishia Williams, of Fraser; and Ameena Albweitzel, of Warren, practice making latte foam art April 15 at Lucky Detroit Espresso & Coffee in Detroit.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Local culinary arts students study the art of coffee

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published April 23, 2019

 Lucky Detroit Espresso & Coffee  general manager Patrick McDermott  demonstrates how to make latte foam art.

Lucky Detroit Espresso & Coffee general manager Patrick McDermott demonstrates how to make latte foam art.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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DETROIT/CENTER LINE — In the late morning of April 15, seven students in the Rising Stars Academy gathered around a coffee bar inside Lucky Detroit Espresso & Coffee, located on Michigan Avenue in Detroit’s historic Corktown neighborhood.

Visiting the coffee shop was a chance for the students to learn another skill, as Lucky Detroit general manager Patrick McDermott demonstrated the basics of making espresso, the history and science behind making a perfect latte and mocha, and the skills needed to create latte foam art.

Matt Osterman, Dylan Craig, Robert Comelli, Ameena Albweitzel, Arneishia Williams, Malik Mayes and Josh Goodwin were the students in attendance.

“I liked making the designs in the cappuccino and the coffee,” Mayes said. “I liked how it tasted at the end.”

Mayes, 22, of Southfield, is around coffee on a regular basis. He, along with fellow classmate Albweitzel, works at the University of Detroit Mercy library coffee shop to gain job training experience. 

“I’m a barista,” Mayes said. “I have a good relationship with the students at the University of Detroit (Mercy). They know me by name.”

“I make wraps and greet customers. I would like to become a chef, actually,” Albweitzel said. The 18-year-old Warren resident said she likes “everything” about Rising Stars. 

The Rising Stars Academy, founded in 2012 in Center Line, is a culinary arts school for students ages 18-26 with special needs who have exited high school with a certification of completion. The academy — a charter school authorized by Center Line Public Schools — prepares students with employment skills and life skills. Students hail from metro Detroit. 

According to a Rising Stars Academy brochure, the students have various disabilities ranging from cognitive impairments to autism, do not have a diploma after high school, and are offered an education through the state until they turn 26. About 125 students attend Rising Stars, and they do not pay tuition. Students attend school six hours a day.

“The students don’t get paid. We assist them in getting skills,” said Mark Prentiss, who founded the school with his wife, Deb, and went to Lucky Detroit last week with the group and paraprofessional Anthony Volpe.

Rising Stars and Lucky Detroit have a partnership in which the culinary arts students provide cookies, muffins, biscottis and vegan brownies to the Corktown business with proceeds benefiting Rising Stars. 

The Rising Stars staff members prepare the pastries with assistance from the students. The treats are also sold to other local businesses, including Woodpile BBQ Shack in Clawson, GreenSpace Café in Ferndale, and Detroit Fleat in Hazel Park.

In addition to learning about the food industry at the school building, the Rising Stars Academy students receive job training with local companies. The school is currently partnered with Detroit Dental Labs, Henry Ford Health Services, St. Patrick’s Senior Center, Crest Ford, General Motors, Skowronski Dental, TACOM and the University of Detroit Mercy. 

At the job sites, the students undergo training three hours per day, usually three days per week, learning valuable skills. Their time at job training sites counts toward their class time at school. In the past year alone, Rising Stars trained nine students who gained employment with skills they learned in the program. 

Lucky Detroit Espresso & Coffee opened in October 2018 by owners Jami and Chad Buchanan. When Chad Buchanan visited the Rising Stars Academy, he knew he wanted the school to be involved with the coffee shop. 

“Everything they are doing at Rising Stars is phenomenal,” he said. “It allows the students to get into the marketplace.”

Lucky Detroit — with décor featuring antique furniture — is located just above Detroit Barbers at 2000 Michigan Ave., which is also owned by the Buchanans. 

The Rising Stars Academy, located at 23855 Lawrence Ave. in Center Line, is open to the public for lunch from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. 

The school is hosting a Night Under the Stars fundraiser from 6 to 10 p.m. June 6 in Shed No. 3 at Eastern Market, 2934 Russell St. in Detroit. Tickets cost $50 each and include beer, wine, food tastings and entertainment. Activities will include a cooking competition, a live auction, a silent auction, raffle baskets and a 50-50 raffle. 

For more information on the event or the Rising Stars Academy, visit rising-stars-academy.org or call (586) 806-6455.

Call Staff Writer Maria Allard at (586) 498-1045. 

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