‘The Overlook’ Is Open for Business at Wheeling Park High School
photo by: Photo by Derek Redd
WHEELING — Wheeling Park High School students have a grand new place to shop, learn, and prepare for the future.
The Overlook, the school’s new store, opened for business Friday at the top of the school’s renovated entrance overlooking the main parking and surrounding properties. The school’s students will create items for The Overlook, and market and manage the store. They also will work alongside special needs students there, school officials explained.
The Overlook also is open during school hours to the public wanting to purchase WPHS merchandise and items made by students. All visitors, though, must check in at the front entrance with photo identification.
Bryan Michaels, business teacher within the career and technical education department at WPHS, explained the function and goals of the store.
He said a major part of the foundations of the CTE programs is establishing simulated workplaces for students. The goal of the simulated workplace, meanwhile, is to create opportunities for students to enhance and utilize skills learned in the classroom in a real-world setting.
At WPHS, the simulated workplace company is named “Park Inc.” Within Park Inc, there are classes in marketing, accounting, personal finance, business management and entrepreneurship.
Michaels said he and other CTE teachers jumped at the opportunity when asked if they would support an expanded school store at WPHS.
“We realized The Overlook would be more than a simulation,” he said. “It would be a real workplace – a retail storefront that would have a significant impact on our students’ education and future success.”
Accounting students will provide financial analysis for the store’s operation, and entrepreneurship students will have “an environment in which to launch their creations and ideas.” Michaels said.
Business management students, meanwhile, will get the opportunity to learn hands-on operation and management skills, he continued. They will also have to address issues pertaining to supply chain, advertising and promotion of products.
Students in business marketing already gained first-hand experience as they participated in the design and layout of the store, according to Michaels. And graphic design students created the logo.
Wooden wall hangings made by students and in the shape of West Virginia already are in the store, and available for purchase. There are also wooden keychains made by students and plants grown at the school in the store.
There is much WPHS merchandise ready for the selling, as well as snack food items. While these were not made by students, it’s expected there will be more products in the store coming from students in the future.
photo by: Photo by Derek Redd
Stephanie Bugaj – assistant principal at WPHS and director of the CTE program – thanked school officials for placing the store “at the most primo location” in the building.
“For years, teachers and myself have struggled with a location for our simulated business program. With the addition of a marketing and management program and two fabulous teachers straight out of the industry, we have been able to take a dream to reality.”
Among those present for the ribbon cutting were a number of special needs students who attend WPHS. The Overlook employees will share the store with special needs students, who “will work alongside them in the day-to-day operations of the store,” Bugaj explained.
“This is a great partnership for all,” she said. “And most importantly … it is a place to showcase all the beautiful arts and crafts from our CTE program, and some really cool Park Patriot swag.”
Ohio County Schools Superintendent Kim Miller agreed there are many facets to the store.
“The Wheeling Park High School Overlook and School Store isn’t just a place for Patriots to purchase school supplies or Park t-shirts on gameday,” she explained. “This is a legitimate business that provides a unique learning experience for our students.
“It provides a wonderful opportunity for our career and technical education employees to manage a business, create products and serve customers.”
She credited the West Virginia Department of Education for a $25,000 grant that helped make the store possible. She also thanked the voters of Ohio County for passing a $42.2 million bond issue in 2018 that has made improvements at all 13 school buildings in the school district a reality.
“The Wheeling Park Overlook and School Store is yet another example of the community’s investment in the students at Wheeling Park High School and Ohio County Schools, and trust in our school system,” Miller said.
Ohio County Board of Education President David Croft added it is crucial for board members, as elected officials, to be good stewards of the public’s money. And the expenditure for the school store and work simulation at WPHS was a good one.
“What is more exciting is this is only one of many ribbon cuttings you will see around this school,” he said.