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High school store provides real food, skills for Estacada students

ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: EMILY LINDSTRAND - Melanie Juarez and Michael Gambel stand in front of the menu at the Ranger Station inside Estacada High School. Juarez and Gambel are two of the stores student workers.

Every morning, the eight students in Estacada High School’s retailing class prepare the Ranger Station for another day of operation.

“We clean and restock the store and do inventory and ordering,” said Melanie Juarez, the store’s student manager.

Open during the lunch period, the Ranger Station sells smoothies, coffee and snacks to 10 to 40 students or staff each day.

Each student worker is responsible for staffing the store twice a week and consider the work a valuable learning experience.

“These are skillsets you want to have,” Juarez said.

As manager, Juarez is responsible for creating weekly work schedules, assigning tasks and filling in for co-workers.

“(Being manager) was hard in the beginning, but overall it’s been really rewarding,” she said.

Michael Gambel, another student worker, believes the experience has improved his customer service skills. “It’s been really helpful,” he said.

Students also enjoy collaborating with one another to solve problems.

“I think working with everyone has been the most memorable thing,” Juarez said. “We have to work together to fix things as they come up.”

Joann Harrison, who teaches the high school’s retailing class, believes the work gives students insight into the real world.

“They gain an understanding of the importance of showing up to work, and showing up on time,” Harrison said. “There’s peer pressure. If they’re not there, other students will ask, ‘Why isn’t the store open?’”

The Ranger Station has seen an increase in profits this year. Harrison credits this to an espresso machine that principal Ryan Carpenter helped purchase of at the beginning of the school year. Prior to this, the store did not sell coffee.

“It’s made a big difference,” Harrison said.

Students appreciate the new apparatus as well. Juarez said learning to use the espresso machine has been difficult but rewarding.

“Learning how to make coffee has been a process,” she said. “We have to make sure we get all the recipes right.”

Earnings from the store support Future Business Leaders of America activities and scholarships. Typically, one scholarship is awarded to a senior store worker after they successfully complete one semester of college, but Harrison estimates that they may be able to give two scholarships this year because of the increased profits.

“It’s a reward for their efforts,” she said.

Meanwhile, students are glad to be able to serve their peers at the store.

What’s the most popular item they sell?

Without a doubt, they said, the chocolate covered pretzels.

“We can never order enough of those,” Gambel said.

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