Along with marking the Shoreham-Wading River Central School District’s 50th anniversary, the district is celebrating by creating something new for its students: a new school store for the first time in at least two decades.
The high school held a ribbon cutting for the grand opening of the school store last Thursday. According to principal Frank Pugliese, the school store has been in the works for about six years and took around eight months to build.
“We had several different ideas in place,” he said. “We were going to go [with] kind of a mobile situation and, quickly through Renu [Contracting Services], this idea of building this free-standing structure came to light as something that we could do, and it very quickly materialized from there.”
The new school store was dubbed “The Den” by students through a poll. Currently the graphic design students are sketching out various ideas for a logo. Getting student input was paramount, said Tracy Von Eschen, the district’s director of special education and pupil personnel services.
“That was important to us, that as much as possible of this grand opening and all things were student driven,” she said.
The Den will function as an extension of the academic classroom during the school day and as a club during non-school hours, she added.
Michael VanDenburg of Renu Contracting Services donated $5,000 to help students kick off the store.
The store will be run by students with disabilities participating in the school’s RISE work study program as well as mainstream students who will serve as peer partners. It will help students sharpen their vocational skills to be successful employees in the future, Ms. Von Eschen said. The store is a “safe haven” for the students to practice their skills, she added.
“They’re really working on functional academic skills and career development as part of their curriculum,” she said. “The store is going to give them a setting to take skills they learn in the classroom and generalize it into a real-world setting and then from here, learn how to take it from our school store really into the real world.”
There are currently over 12 students that will be contributing to the school store and cycling through other vocational learning opportunities.
“Some will work in more front-facing roles, others will be doing things a little bit more behind the scenes, but over time our goal is to have all of the students be able to be comfortable in all of those different facets,” Mr. Pugliese said.
The school store is open Tuesday through Thursday from 6:45 to 8 a.m.
Currently the store offers breakfast snacks, Mr. Pugliese said. They hope to eventually be able to offer school spirit wear and school supplies.
District Superintendent Gerard Poole said this also helps spread school spirit.
“Having a school store and the colors and a place to gather, it’s not just the vocational aspects of it but it also brings some energy and vibrancy to the school, which is really important for the school day,” he said.
Mr. Poole also thanked teachers Cailtin Gould and Matthew Millheiser, who he said are going “above and beyond” and are going to be working with students to keep the school store operational.
“I thank them for their energy, the program is going to be successful and grow and become something more and more fantastic every year because of the teachers that are leading that,” he said.
Mr. Pugliese said the district is very grateful to be able to have these types of opportunities for their students.
“This comes together because we have a district office administration, we have a Board of Education that are always so forward-thinking,” he said. “This was something that has gone through so many different permutations that when we saw the opportunity to enhance what already is a very strong program — the fact that everybody jumped on it and championed it, just speaks volumes to what we’re all able to do when everyone recognizes what’s in the best interest of kids.”