“It’s a different type of English class,” said English teacher Terri Skeele, referring to the senior English class that revolves around running the school store at Jamesville-DeWitt High School. This particular English course, known as Corporate Communications, is a half-semester course that fulfills the senior English requirement.The School Store is open every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and all the proceeds go to charity. This year, the students voted to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).
Last year’s group of students started the School Store and rallied for it to become a permanent fixture at the high school. This year’s Corporate Communications students were tasked with finding a permanent place for the School Store and selling last year’s merchandise. They also needed to find out what new products to order for this year, advertise the products and create a work schedule for the store.
The store's profits go to charity. In addition to selling items, during the first semester the store held a “Pink-Out” and sold shirts to raise money for breast cancer, while during second semester the store held a “Green-Out” for St. Patrick’s Day and sold t-shirts to raise money for the MDA.
“We try to come up with new merchandise that kids would be interested in,” said senior Courtney Ellis. Mrs. Skeele said the students search online for merchandise during class. “The hard part is getting 50 kids to agree on something,” she said. Senior Brendon Schunck said the store has “a ton of new merchandise” such as Nike Elite socks and snapbacks, as well as J-DHS apparel and trinkets like pins and stress balls. “Some of the big things going on are stress balls and snapbacks,” says senior Ryan Peters.
In addition to ordering new merchandise, these students had to sell whatever first-semester ordered and failed to sell. Senior Steve Middleton, who is the website and Facebook page manager for the School Store, said that the store has a lot of new products, so they’ve marked down the prices of the older products in order to sell them more quickly. “We’re just trying to clear inventory and make some money,” he said. Mrs. Skeele said that because there’s a lot of clearance, the school works with parenting groups in the community to sell the merchandise at a faster rate. “The class before us left a lot of merchandise to us so we haven’t had a lot of choice in buying new merchandise,” said senior Michael Alfieris; “We haven’t really bought anything except the stress balls and the lollipops.” Senior Josh Fitzgibbons said, “A lot of the things (that first semester left behind) are very hard to sell.” “We’ve sold a lot of things and we‘ve raised money for muscular dystrophy,” said senior Chip Weber, who is the liason officer for public relations.
So what appeals to students who take this class? Middleton said, “I took Corporate Communications because it might help me out later in life.” Ellis said, “I heard it was really fun and it gives us a lot of information on how to run a business, which is one thing I want to do someday.” “I thought it would be a fun and interesting way to learn about business,” said senior Brad Siegel.
Weber said that he enrolled in Corporate Communications in view of an interest in business and also because seniors from last year recommended it. Senior Tyler Cavanaugh was drawn to Corporate Communications because he also heard good things about the class. “The School Store experience has been great,” said Cavanaugh. Schunck said that the class sounded fun, plus there’s opportunity to interact with other students. “As a senior you get to pick what English class you take, and I thought this would be a fun one,” said Alfieris.
Mrs. Skeele said that she tries to match the students’ individual skills and interests with the different aspects of running a business. Middleton said that skill-wise, the need to learn about business is something necessary for Corporate Communications. Weber said that “a level of personability with other people, organizational skills and anything necessary to run a business” are things instilled in Corporate Communications students. “The skills and interests needed would be knowing how to handle merchandise and money, and taking care of things,” said Cavanaugh. Siegel believes learning to work with others and cooperating in a business setting are both very important skills needed for the class. Senior Deke Burns said that any typical English skills are helpful. However, he said, “unlike any other English class, you have to understand the finer points of running a business”; “It’s a separate career path,” Burns also said; Learning to run a small business is something you may do later in life so you just have to get acclimated with it,” he said. “You have to know technology and work your way around computers and stuff like that,” said Fitzgibbons.
The Corporate Communications students all have to work the school store at least a couple times. “Some people like it and volunteer to do it more often,” said Mrs. Skeele, “while others just want to do the bare minimum and be done.” She said that dedicated students will take the initiative and try to make the School Store better and working extra on their own time. “I find that those who are involved more, enjoy [the class] more,” said Mrs. Skeele. “I run the school store every so often as everyone else in the class should,” said Siegel. Ellis said she tries to come up with good ideas and works at the store as much as possible. Burns said he is a part of class by throwing out new ideas for the store. “I’m involved because I work at the store every once in a while and I’m just an active member in the class,” said Cavanaugh. Alfieris said, “You have to be interested in business and running a store.”
The purpose of the Corporate Communications class is to help its students learn about running a business and, above all, raise money for the MDA, but also to build certain characteristics. Middleton said the class builds school spirit and “it gives people a little self-confidence and makes money for muscular dystrophy.” “It definitely builds school spirit and gives more knowledge on what we’d want to do if we want to go into business,” said Weber. Cavanaugh thinks the school store builds great school spirit and character between all the students. Schunck said a lot of the items are geared toward school spirit and raising money for the MDA. “The School Store builds confidence in yourself because you have to learn how to be social with people,” said Alfieris.
Mrs. Skeele said that Corporate Communications builds skills that deal with communication, business, organization, time management and speaking. “Within the group, I see where their interests are,” she said; “For example, the people who are interested in the creative and artistic might be in the store design or advertising group.” Mrs. Skeele said that the people involved with the technology group are running the TV at the four corners, the School Store website and the Facebook page. The class also works on writing resumes, cover letters and other aspects of business.
The goals of these students range between simple goals for the school year and what is waiting in their futures. “As a whole class, (the goals are) to raise awareness for the MDA, raise money for our school, and get spirit items out to our school,” said Schunck. Peters said he simply wants to get a good grade in the class. Ellis said her goal is to “get a good grade and to learn more about the business aspect of the store.” Middleton said his goal is centered around making money for Muscular Dystrophy and having fun with the class. “We’d like to raise $500 for the MDA,” said Siegel. Burns said he plans to “finish high school English and learn how to run a small business.” “I’m just hoping to get better with handling the business world and getting ready for that when I get out of college,” said Cavanaugh. Weber said his goal (and the goal for the whole Corporate Communications class) should be “to be better than last semester and last year, definitely.”
Mrs. Skeele and the seniors involved with Corporate Communications are continuing to build up a good-size donation by June that will hopefully raise awareness for Muscular Dystrophy.