The Mountain Shop at West Orange High School is open for business. The store, run by special education students, will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony Monday at 8:15 a.m. to publically acknowledge its grand opening.
Funded by the Learn and Serve America, School-Based Program Grant, the goal of the store is to provide special education students with the necessary life skills to seek employment upon graduation.
In June 2010, Jeanine Genauer, Communications, Grants, Special Projects for West Orange Public Schools, applied for the grant. In October of 2010 she learned it would be awarded to the school in the amount of $14,000. As stated in the grant, the store’s objective is “to create, run and maintain a simulated learning environment outside the walls of a classroom for special education students.”
Victor Paglio, West Orange High School Coordinator of Community/School Programs added, “the main thrust of the project is to develop a simulated store so our special education students who [otherwise] go into the community [to get a job] can stay right here.”
The store was also designed as a cross-curriculum project. Graduates Chris Carlucci and Jerhard Evangelista were among the drafting students who worked on the blueprints. Under the supervision of Technology Education Teacher John Worobetz, current seniors Conor Coyle and Connor Vanderhood were among the technology students who worked on construction and physically built the store this summer. School business students are working on the marketing and advertising.
Jodie Goldstein, the school’s Transition Coordinator, supervises the store with her staff. Approximately 20-25 special education students will run the store’s day-to-day operations. Prior to opening, Goldstein’s team trained the students to run and man the store. Among some of the training the students received were operating the cash register, customer service, delivering and stocking merchandise and general monetary transactions. Paglio said “we are trying to make it as real to life as possible.” Connie Salimbeno, Director Student Support Services, said the goal for the special education students working in the store is to “realistically look at where they are going and what they are doing.”
To get the store started, Paglio said “Cavanna [Superintendent of Schools] gave $5,000 in seed money to purchase merchandise. Seed money will be paid back. Store profits regenerate and replenish stock in the store.” Assistant High School Principal Louis Dellapia said “from the
Superintendent on down, we’ve had total support.”
Dellapia said he sees the store as “a total school community. It’s a place to purchase and be prideful.”
Located in the high traffic area near the school cafeteria, The Mountain Shop sells school logoed apparel, school supplies and accessories among other sundries.