Students in the West Ashley High School Merchandising class have the opportunity to operate a retail business, the Cat Shack, a store which sells snacks, beverages, apparel and school supplies. Students shop at the store during the five-minute transition period between classes while Merchandising students work the registers.
The Cat Shack is completely student-led and student-managed. Merchandising teacher Terry Stutts rotates students in the areas of finance, human relations management, marketing, operations and accounting and lets the students run the store. He requires students to document what they accomplished during each class in a journal and write summary essays about their experiences. “It’s truly amazing when they read the journals and realize what they accomplished,” Stutts said.
The profits from the Cat Shack help fund the school’s Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) chapter. West Ashley’s DECA chapter won numerous awards at a recent state competition at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center. Some of the students will compete at the world championships Apr. 25-29 in Anaheim, CA.
Jose Arencibia took first place at the state competition in the Retail Merchandising category. The other state award winners for West Ashley were Jasmine Borjon, Rodney Graham, Kelly Cochran, and the team of Haley Bauer, Margaret Huggins and Lupe Chavez.
Bauer, the DECA chapter President, teamed with Huggins and Chavez on a marketing plan for the WA5K Dash through the Den, an on-campus road race fundraiser for the chapter. The run is set for Sat., May 20 at 9 am. Runners may pre-register at http://www.racemine.com. The fee is $20 for faculty and students and $25 for others. The event attracted 75 runners last year and netted almost $2000 for the DECA chapter. Bauer plans to boost participation this year by making the event a “color run” in which runners get splashed with chalk dust at three stations along the course.
Marketing is among the career clusters offered at West Ashley. In addition to Merchandizing, marketing students may take courses in Google Aps, Web Page Design, Marketing, Digital Media Marketing, Accounting, and Entrepreneurship, in which students actually launch businesses. Bauer and Chavez said that the marketing cluster and DECA chapter have given them great opportunities to develop leadership and public speaking skills and a desire to pursue business careers.