Knights Crossing Teaches Students Life Lessons

Owen Whelan and Trisha Yu, Reporters

While most students may know Knights Crossing, the school store, for the wide variety of beverages, snacks and many other products sold there, the school store has a very interesting history that ties in with different clubs and teaches many valuable life skills to students involved in running the store.

According to Mrs. Logan, the first school store was already open before she started working at the high school in 1987. Mrs. Laurenzano ran it as part of a business class and in conjunction with DECA and the business club. It had humble beginnings, starting in a very small space in the cafeteria (which has now become a storage area for custodial staff) and sold very few items. After several years, the school store had grown, expanding into a classroom while adding a wider variety of products. The Life Skills program ran it alongside DECA for several years until the business department was dissolved, due to conflicts in a new learning schedule.  Because of that, the Life Skills students were able to take over full management of the school store.

Ms. Wolfe, who is a Nanuet graduate, noted, “The school store has been around for YEARS! It was here when I went to high school here and has evolved tremendously. It was created and run by the Life Skills program and the DECA (club) students years ago. It merged functional living skills and business skills together. Over the past few years, just the Life Skills program has run the store.”

The Life Skills program’s management of the school store was created out of necessity when the business department was phased out. Most of the students enrolled in Life Skills enter the world of work upon graduation from high school. It was hard for them to feel confident applying for a job in any retail store without experience using a cash register, setting up displays, and dealing with customers. In addition, BOCES tech program was geared more for auto body and carpentry at the time so students who weren’t interested in learning those skills had no other avenue to pursue. About 8 years ago, the state made it mandatory that all students in Life Skills programs receive vocational training and experience.

The school store helps students build real-world skills such as keeping inventory and counting money, which can be applied to many real world jobs. Additionally, these students learn how to follow both written and verbal directions, how to independently complete work related tasks, how to listen to a boss/manager, how to balance the cash drawer, how to make bank deposits, how to figure out if you make a profit (or loss) in a business, and how to markup products to earn a profit. They learn to bake cookies and make coffee, set up displays, and organize product and paper goods inventory. They measure, weigh or count products for different sales. They have a rolling cart/store that brings coffee and snacks to the offices. It is very clear that the students will learn everything they need to know to feel confident applying for a job in a retail store of any kind.

To achieve these goals, students in the Life Skills program spend half of their day working on functional academics and half of their day on some time of vocational skill. In their first two years or so of high school, the students work in the school store for vocational experience. This helps them discover their interests, strengths and weaknesses in the work world. After that, the students do different things for their vocational training depending on what their interests are. Some students go to BOCES tech to student culinary, auto, cosmetology, carpentry, etc., while some students work in the community (Modells, People to People, Kohls, etc.) as part of a Work Experience program, and some students stay in the School Store. At the end of their time in high school, the goal is that all of the Life Skills students are confident young men and women who are ready and able to be productive and happy members of their community. The directors and advisers look forward for them to be well on their way to reaching their full academic, social and work potential.

Mrs. Logan said that she is looking forward to the school store’s further achievements and is sure to see even more positive changes in the future. She said, “I’m confident that the store is going to continue to grow and expand over the next few years. We have a beautiful new space and Mrs. Wolfe, a new teacher to the high school, is excited to be working with the Life Skills students running the store! Central Administration is so supportive of the program that we’ve been discussing some additional products to be added – we may see a cappuccino machine, smoothies, ‘Grab and Go’ items to take with you to a meeting or sports after school, and maybe some new clothing products or an online shopping option.” Ms. Wolfe, who runs the school store with the students, also shared her vision for healthier food options and events with classes in school. She said, “The new school store is off to a wonderful start. We are hoping to add more healthy options for students and staff. We are also hoping to do more partnerships/events with other classes. The store is a big classroom for our students and lots of great things happen inside. Remember to always enter with patience and kindness!”

Overall, anyone can tell that the school store is incredibly beneficial to all members of the school community, not only because of the products it sells, but also because it teaches many students the skills they will need later in life for running a business. Without the school store, the Nanuet Senior High School would be missing out on a lot!