(1.1)EDGEWOOD-Every morning at Dixie Heights High School, customers pour into a special experiment: the district's first coffee shop run mostly by students with special learning needs.
(2.1)Well before classes start, students and teachers order Lattes, Cappuccinos and Hot Chocolates. (2.2)Then, during the first period, teachers call in orders on their room phones, and students make deliveries.
(3.1)By closing time at 9:20 a.m., the shop usually sells 90 drinks.
(4.1)"Whoever made the chi tea, Ms.Schatzman says it was good," Christy McKinley, a second year student, announced recently, after hanging up with the teacher.
(5.1)The shop is called the Dixie PIT,which stands for Power in Transition. (5.2)Although some of the students are not disabled, many are, and the PIT helps them prepare for life after high school.
(6.1)They learn not only how to run a coffee shop but also how to deal with their affairs. (6.2)They keep a timecard and receive paychecks, which they keep in check registers.
(7.1)Special-education teachers Kim Chevalier and Sue Casey introduced the Dixie PIT from a similar program at Kennesaw Mountain High School in Georgia.
(8.1)Not that it was easy. (8.2)Chevalier's first problem to overcome was product-related. (8.3)Should schools be selling coffee? (8.4)What about sugar content?
(9.1)Kenton County Food Service Director Ginger Gray helped. (9.2)She made sure all the drinks, which use non-fat milk, fell within nutrition guidelines.
(10.1)The whole school has joined in to help.
(11.1)Teachers agreed to give up their lounge in the mornings. (11.2)Art students painted the name of the shop on the wall. (11.3)Business students designed the paychecks. (11.4)The basketball team helped pay for cups.
Well before means "a long time before," but "long" is a relative word. If classes started at the school at 8 AM, then the store might open at 7 AM, well before classes start. An "opposite" term might be just before, which means "shortly before." If the shop opened at 7:45, then it would open just before classes start.
Calling in is an idiom, meaning to relay information by telephone. An order, when used in as a noun, is something that you order from a restaurant or cafe. So, if I phone my favorite Mexican restaurant, and call in an order of fajitas, they will start working on my order, so it will be ready when I arrive. In this case, teachers are phoning the school's coffee shop, and calling in their orders.
Not that it was easy simply means that the work was somehow challenging, difficult, or arduous. Going on a fishing trip may sound easy and relaxing, but suppose I went to a lake that required an 8km walk, and had to lug heavy gear in a backpack. In that case, I might say, "I went on a fun fishing trip – not that it was easy; we had a long hike before we got to the lake." The phrase it was hard is a rough synonym, although not that it was easy is more likely to be used when a reader might otherwise assume that the task being described is all fun and no work. In this case, not that it was easy is referring to planning stages of the coffee shop: it was no small task to figure out what the school should be selling, and if some might think there would be some conflict of interest if the schools were selling unhealthy drinks.
Experiment means exactly what the dictionary says it means; from NOAD:
a course of action tentatively adopted without being sure of the eventual outcome
In this case, the school opened a coffee shop with much uncertainty about whether or not the shop would be a success. Most likely, whoever had the idea was a visionary, and thought that the students and teachers would benefit from having an in-school coffee shop, while those who ran the shop might stand to get a more valuable educational experience than they might get in a classroom during that time. It's a chance for them to learn some real-world life skills. But sometimes, things don't turn out the way we envision. If another school copies this idea and implements it, I would be less inclined to describe that as an experiment, since the idea has already been proven to be valuable in another school. Because of the word experiment, as opposed to, say, project or endeavor, I'm inclined to think this school came up with this idea on their own.