The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

Review of Middle-Eastern restaurant ‘Namak’
Cancel culture: A roadblock on the path to social justice
Board of Education passes proposed amendment to homework policy
MCPS Board of Education appoints Gregory Miller as new Whitman Principal
MCPS appoints Dr. Thomas W. Taylor as new Superintendent
Staff in MCPS autism program involuntarily transferred, stoking further budget concerns

Staff in MCPS autism program involuntarily transferred, stoking further budget concerns

June 19, 2024

Ice cream fosters community at Sarah’s Handmade

@sarahshandmadeicecream via instagram
Since its opening in 2019, Sarah’s Handmade has garnered praise from ice cream enthusiasts and local critics alike.

Visitors walk into Sarah’s Handmade Ice Cream and are immediately met with the sweet smell of freshly made ice cream and the smiling faces of high school-age employees. There’s a slight chill in the air as customers line up eagerly for a cold treat. Since its opening in 2019, Sarah’s Handmade has garnered praise from ice cream enthusiasts and local critics alike.  

Owner Sarah Park’s longtime hobby of ice cream making inspired her to start the business with her daughter, Annie Park. The pair runs two stores in Bethesda and opened a Rockville location in February 2024. Each shop offers 40 unique flavors including hazelnut churro and black raspberry, all made on-site. 

As a popular local business, the company receives approximately 50 to 100 job applications from high school students weekly, Park said. Applications at Sarah’s are highly selective; employees must have at least a 3.5 weighted GPA and an impressive list of extracurriculars. 

“I think they were trying to find the people who were really motivated to work there instead of people who just wanted to find a job,” said sophomore Drew Eichberg, a Sarah’s employee. 

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Park explained that the hiring process seeks students who can successfully balance school and extracurriculars. She said Sarah’s looks for students willing to take the extra step to gain work experience and life skills from the position. Park stated that Sarah’s aims to emphasize community building and teach student-employees valuable skills they can apply in the future, regardless of their eventual career path. Park hopes that students will take the initiative to improve as individuals and become proficient in what they intend to do. 

“We hope to train our staff on things that you’re going to need no matter what you end up doing,” Park said. “How do we interact with strangers? How do I communicate with people who may not speak the same language I do or aren’t from the same cultural background?” 

Despite being relatively new to the job, sophomore Caroline Easley said she has already learned new skills that have increased her confidence around others, something she’s struggled with in the past. Easley said she has surprised herself with how she’s become more comfortable interacting with customers and getting to know the people she works with. 

Eichberg has also learned new skills such as remaining positive under pressure, which he said comes in handy during rushes of customers. Park hopes these experiences can teach students key life skills and fulfill Sarah’s mission to positively impact the community. 

Another fundamental aspect of Sarah’s student-employee experience is community building. A positive culture among staff members promotes efficiency within the business and creates a positive environment that customers recognize.

Every spring, Sarah’s shift supervisors — a group of high school students — plan a team bonding event to promote a positive employee community. In the past, shift supervisors have planned events such as an employee prom and laser tag activity. Park stated that Sarah’s intends for these events to initiate team bonding and build community within the business. 

“The teamwork that we require to work efficiently, it doesn’t just happen,” Park said. “We have to put in actual effort to make sure those team bonding moments happen.” 

One notable community-building event at Sarah’s is their annual send-off party, where the company invites student employees and their families to honor the graduating seniors. At the event, graduating employees reflect upon their time working at Sarah’s, and the owners address the business’ future goals.  

Eichberg has seen the effects of team and team-building events on the working environment through his interactions with other staff members. From the beginning, he immediately felt welcomed by other high schoolers, since everyone was genuinely happy to be there, he said.

 “They make an effort to learn your name and talk to you and help you with anything,” Eichberg said. “It’s so sweet.”

Sarah’s high school employees also run the store’s TikTok page, which uses online trends and humor as a marketing tool for the business. The company allows students to take the lead and encourages them to go beyond the basic requirements of their job. 

As the face of the store through customer interactions, student employees are a central part of Sarah’s Handmade business, and according to Park, their presence adds energy and joy to their working environment.

“I think a lot of them develop the mindset that this is not just an hourly job,” Park said. “It’s actually ‘where can I be a better version of myself’ and I hope that translates into any aspects of their lives.”

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