The students of Mosier Middle School are seizing the opportunity to improve their school surroundings and help change the learning experience for the future generations of students.
The effect of the hard work put in by the current seventh and eighth grader students can be seen in a new store they began operating on March 1.
The store is located at the site of the old gas station that was purchased by the school late last year, and will be open from 1 to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
“We’re using the (old store grounds) until the appropriate funds are raised to help expand the middle school,” seventh grader Maddi Simonds said.
Merchandise includes school apparel, honey, jams, dried fruit and produce such as potatoes, and onions.
Simonds said students are selling zucchini bread and a product they call “Tiger bars,” named after the school mascot.
“They’re similar to granola bars. They’re healthy, but they actually taste really good,” she said.
Also for sale are Mosier sweatshirts and bags. Simonds explained, “To create the sweatshirts and bags we put together the designs, then hired a company to make them.”
Parents and community members are donating time to help cook food and oversee the students in the store along with the activities director, Jeff Leonard, who skillfully built the store as a freestanding and enclosed structure. Leonard, the founder of Mosier Survival Gardens, has provided some of the store’s produce and products.
In addition to serving as a fundraiser for the school, the store also serves an academic purpose.
Students learn the ins and outs of operating a business, and such skills as customer service and how to develop an efficient retail pricing model.
“A lot of them have a real knack” for business, Leonard said.
The students also serve as taste-testers/focus groups for products to sell in the store.
The store will continue to be open during the summer, but depending on student participation, the summer hours may change.
The future expansion of the middle school will include three classrooms, a media and technology center, a new cafeteria, an outdoor education center and garden and a public park.
The cafeteria will replace the current one – last upgraded in the 1950s – which serves more than 200 hot breakfasts and lunches daily.
The building will also serve as a community center, with public access to classrooms, the media center and the commercial kitchen after school hours.
The classrooms will be used by the community for activities, classes and business projects. The kitchen will be available for use by food product businesses.
Depending on the pace of fundraising and construction, the project should finish in two to three years. Funding will come from public sources.
The hope is that the sale of the products from the store can help in raising $2 million for the school.
“That’s a lot of cookies and bags,” said eighth-grader Emily Spezzia-Schwiff.
Still, the students are determined, and they have a hard-to-beat sales strategy.
“Who wouldn’t want to buy from us?” said seventh-grader Leah Ralph. “We’re adorable.”
Contributions to the capitol campaign are accepted, by mail to Mosier Schools Campaign, P.O. Box 307, Mosier, OR 97040 on online at www.mosierschool.com; click on “giving,” then “donate.”