Forest Grove students open for business
Forest Grove High School is open for business this school year.
Students have opened and operated a brick-and-mortar store on campus to sell school-day essentials and learn the ups and downs of enterprise.
"It was a little bit chaotic at first. We have so many restrictions. When we first opened we only had this one mini fridge," senior Allisen Thomas said. "It was definitely 10 times harder than I thought it would be, but I'm happy we got things off the ground."
From behind the counter at "The Vik Shop," students navigated school board approval, a Coca-Cola contract and a two-week COVID-19 shutdown in the fall while tracking inventory of bestsellers — gum. chapstick and pencils — and exploring new ideas, like designing team-specific gear that wouldn't be found anywhere else. Students also marketed the store on social media, digested customer feedback and operated an online store.
"I learned to be a team player. You have to work with other people and communicate really well to run a business," Thomas said. "It would be frustrating when you would show up and an item would be sold out but the system would say we still had it."
District policy bars the store from selling food.
Senior Thong Nguyen, who takes on the roll of opening the store before school most mornings around 7:20 a.m., said he thought sparkling water would sell better, and the popularity of Forest Grove High School stickers surprised him.
"There are some things that you think will sell, but when you put it out, it does not," said Nguyen, who is planning on majoring in business management at Oregon State University.
He added, "When you plan something on paper, it's very different than when you do it in real (life). It's helped me learn you have to be flexible. Sometimes you just have to deal with what you have. There is often not a lot of time to rethink a strategy. Sometimes you just have to do it because of the circumstances."
The business pathway includes an introductory course followed by business communications and business management classes.
Business teacher Jillian Miller said this spring, 23 students are graduating with three years of business classes and the hands-on experience of the student store. About 140 students are at some level of the business program this school year.
"I try to teach them transferable skills using current technology," Miller said. "I can't say enough about the importance of having these skills-based programs at our school. Having students have the ability to be operating their own business with school and broader community support, it's pretty fun, but it's also really good practice."
Business students collaborated with peers studying graphic design to create some of their original Forest Grove merchandise.
Forest Grove High School offers 12 "pathways" that combine multiple course levels and electives around similar careers: agricultural science, business, computer science, construction technology, culinary and hospitality, education health sciences, leadership, mechatronics, metals manufacturing, performing arts, visual arts, and visual design, to name a few.
"(Career-technical education) courses, such as the classes within our business program, are designed to help students gain the necessary skills in order to be prepared for opportunities in high-skill, high-demand, high-wage careers," said assistant principal Colene Lord, who oversees career-technical education. "The goal of the Vik Shop is to provide students with hands-on, work-based learning experiences."
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