Springfield High School opened its first school store this year with a group of students learning life and employment skills while operating it.
The Cat Den is run by students from the school’s vocational education and career exploration, some of whom have disabilities. They interviewed for positions, chose the products the store carries and will run the store from 10:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“The students did everything from start to finish, from just the concept of starting a school store to actually carrying it out,” said Campus Director Chris Shaffer. “That’s a big deal for our kids.”
The Cat Den stocks school supplies and spirit wear, and accepts cash and credit cards.
“It’s a learning experience,” said student Eric McCree, the store manager. “It’s helping us learn what’s going to happen in real life so if we get a job like this, we know how to do everything.”
Teachers worked with students to fill out job applications, prepare for interviews and develop employment skills like speaking style and presentation.
“It has just given us so many teachable moments: vocational skills, business, just real life skills that the kids can take with them that we never would have had the opportunity to do,” said teacher Lisa Demunsch.
At the store’s grand opening Monday afternoon, students helped customers make selections and rang up their purchases, swiping credits cards and counting out change.
“We know that when learning can be applied, it drives the learning deeper and the child remembers it longer,” said Superintendent David Estrop. “This is a real-world experience so the lessons that they learn in their classroom they can bring in here and apply.”