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Wooster Today

The Dining Room Annex Project

By Jillian Schnaudigel '21

This Fall, students returned to school with a renovated learning space in the Library, which they were very excited about, however, it also took away their Student Center. Many students were apprehensive about where they would spend their free time, whether it be doing work or being social. To many student's surprise, early this fall, the new Annex Cafe was completed -- and the booths were instantly filled with students. Many people around campus have been showing a lot of excitement about the new Annex Cafe and have expressed how great the space is to study in, eat lunch in and to socialize with friends. With this excitement came with lots of questions. I discovered that Mrs. Byrnes and Mr. Fischer had a lot to do with the design and construction of the cafe, so I decided to ask them all about it.

A question I heard often from many students is, "Where did this idea come from?"

In a lot of ways this project seemingly came out of nowhere, when in actuality, this project has been in the works since June. When I asked Mrs. Byrnes, she explained, "the idea for reimagining the Annex came from Mr. Byrnes, I think. He knew he wanted to use the old Student Center in the Library as a learning space so we all started to think about alternative places for the students to hang out between classes or during frees."

I'm happy to report that that's exactly how this space is being used.

Another surprising aspect of this new addition to our school is the modern design. Mrs. Byrnes' strived for the space to look "Starbucks-y" while still having it match the colors and theme of the Dining Room. I think this goal was definitely achieved, as sitting in the comfy booths is a great opportunity to escape from the hectic school day. And, it really does have that authentic coffee-shop feel.

There are so many new aspects of the Cafe, each with a unique story of how they made their way into our new favorite space. For example, the booths were ordered all the way back in June and had to be manufactured but everyone hoped they'd be in by the start of school. Even with the delay of a few weeks into the school year, the wait was definitely worth it.

There is also a beautiful wood community table. This table was originally supposed to be a big 14-foot table, until they realized that it's impossible to fit that into the Annex. But, Mr. Fischer improvised and bolted two seven foot tables together to get the desired look.

I have personally noticed how great the lighting in the Cafe is. Mrs. Byrnes said that her favorite part of the Cafe is the pendent lights hanging over the community table as well. She shared that these lights "were only $50 each but they look great." There are also four bar-height tables and chairs where students can sit, as well as places to hang backpacks, so the space isn't cluttered.

Now that the new Annex Cafe has become a staple in Wooster students' lives, we should recognize Mrs. Byrnes and Mr. Fischer's vision, as well as the Felton Family for their generous lead donation that made this space a reality. To all Wooster Alumni -- next time you are back on campus, you need to come hang out in the Annex Cafe!

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