Announcing the winners of the café naming contest—Callie Chang (CA ’25) and Arnav Ahuja (CA ’21)—and the grand opening of The Hub.
Hub: a center around which other things revolve or from which they radiate.
Community has been central to the Cary Academy experience since its founding, underscored by our campus’s very design. Our open Quad, glass-walled multipurpose meeting spaces, and innovative collabolounges invite us to connect, to see each other, to look out for one another.
As a crossroads for the entire Cary Academy community, The Hub is another such gathering place—one with a buzz in the air.
Offering coffee, tea, smoothies, frappes, snacks, school merchandise, and student-made products, hundreds of students and staff visit this vibrant little corner of the Administration building daily. Striking up conversations while their order is made, customers meet fellow Chargers and connect with friends and colleagues at The Hub.
Beyond a meeting place, however, The Hub serves another important function on campus—offering unique opportunities for students to come together to learn about how to start and operate a small business. As alum Arnav Ahuja ’21 wrote in his naming entry, The Hub will be “a place to form some good connections.”
Over thirty-five students across grade levels learn together on shift. Middle Schoolers and Upper Schoolers hang out together in the Library, sipping their favorite drink and soaking in the value that we are #oneschool. Employees from departments across campus volunteer for shifts right alongside students. Charger fans mingle amid racks of blue and gold and share a laugh about how CA’s football team is still undefeated.
“My friends and I have been so excited that CA would have another great gathering space like the café!” – Callie Chang (CA ’25)
The new café side of the business has also catalyzed relationships that extend beyond our campus to local community partners. The Hub serves Bolt, a signature blend of coffee curated by a team of Cary Academy students and employees and roasted by Port City Java in Wilmington, NC. And our cold brew is roasted and brewed by adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities employed by 321 Coffee in Raleigh, NC, co-owned and operated by Lindsay Wrege ’17.
PCJ and 321 also partner with The Hub to provide entrepreneurial education to Chargers. These relationships offer a model—one we hope to replicate many times over–of how we can serve as a hub (see what I did there) for other local small businesses to meet the CA community and for Chargers to learn the lessons they are excited to share centered on entrepreneurship, community, equity, and sustainability.
Operated by Upper School students before, during, and after school hours under the supervision of experienced professionals, The Hub is a classroom—a true learning lab–disguised as a café.
Café crew students have not only learned to make delicious lattes and frappes or to explain the difference between cold brew and iced coffee or a cortado and an espresso macchiato, but know industry-standard food safety protocols and the rationales and reasons behind them.
As a fully functioning business, The Hub infuses current, relevant lessons into the Entrepreneurship course curriculum and provides similar opportunities to spark X Day workshops—whether that is photography for marketing, writing copy for merchandise, the science of cold brew, seasonal drink development contest, or a global supply chain deep dive. The learning lab aspect of The Hub’s business model empowers students with entry-level technical and human skills while simultaneously lifting the curtain about what happens in the back office and how management makes decisions.
Already, the students in the year-long Entrepreneurship elective course began their experience in The Hub with barista training and an introduction to the financial principles of operating a coffee shop presented by Port City Java’s CFO and accountant. From there, the students progressed to developing potential specials and undertaking the process of pricing each item on the menu. In each step—from operations and inventory management and accounting to merchandise design and marketing—The Hub Supervisors and I have been excited by the vision our students have demonstrated in every facet of the The Hub’s operation.
No school would be complete without a campus store where fans can find swag for the big game. Just as the original Charger Corner did for the school’s first twenty-four years, so too does the The Hub have all your blue and gold needs covered.
Whether you swing by for a snack or smoothie or stop in to try on a shirt, make sure you peruse our Chargerpreneur section, where our very own Chargers-turned-vendors (and future business moguls) have their original designs and creations available for purchase. No longer simply the school’s store, The Hub at Cary Academy is a marketplace for student discovery, innovation, and collaboration.
The Hub is open school days 8:30am to 4:30pm to the entire CA community. Or shop online for pickup in store or shipping outside the Triangle.
Curious about volunteering shifts at The Hub or participating in the Chargerpreneur Program? Email Palmer Seeley for details.