Special Education Store Teaches Students Practical Skills

Suzanne Kleine ’11
Features Editor

The blue and white kiosk that stands in the school rotunda is surrounded by a huge crowd of yelling students, grabbing fistfuls of spearmint gum, buying a few candy bars, or hastily stocking up on last-minute school supplies.

The items that sell out the fastest are hand sanitizer, according to Marylou Huisking, the coordinator of the school store.

It “sold out really fast when swine flu was going around,” Huisking said.

An impermanent feature in Staples from as far back as Huisking can remember, the store is a great place for students to grab a few No. 2 pencils before a multiple-choice test, or a snack before practice.

Along with hand sanitizer, other items that sell out quickly are gum and mints, quickly followed by Twizzlers.

“Kids love Twizzlers for some reason,” Huisking said.

Beyond Twizzlers, the kiosk used to be the place to buy Staples logo wear. A student could buy Staples sweatshirts and active wear there. Recently, it has branched out to mostly food items, along with White-out pens, sticky notes and other helpful school supplies.

Besides benefiting the school environment with a place to buy a few sticks of gum before asking a crush to prom, the school store also provides a great chance for students to learn vocational work.

Although any group of students or any student can run the school store, students who receive special services usually run it.

These students are able to practice “transactions with customers and customer service,” Huisking said. This serves the purpose of practicing vocational work beyond the classroom for these students.

“It’s really just an application in math,” said Laura Dinapoli, the coordinator of special education.

Just like students interested in opening a café in Paris would take culinary, Dinapoli said that students can learn vocational customer service from the school store. She said that the basis of these classes is preparing students for life after school, or for life within their particular careers.

“Our motive is to help the students develop in a career area,” Husking said.

Certainly, the students who work at the school store have a unique opportunity to work in the service industry. On any given day, one can see a crowd around the school store, money clenched in fists, and calls for more gum, spearmint please, a bag of chips, or anything else that the kiosk offers.

Students working at the store must order the food and supplies based on demand and sales patterns. They must also pick-up the deliveries every week. Organization of the safe is also important. Students must also set up the store and place foods and candies.

Dinapoli relates working in the school store to taking culinary or child development. She says that both of these classes are based on learning extra-academic skills, such as cooking and child-care.