A farm stand and a supermarket in the high schools?
Edison’s students are harvesting information about the food industries with the grand opening of the greenhouse at J.P. Stevens High School, and the October 2015 ribbon cutting of a fully equipped and operational ShopRite store at Edison High School.
The idea for the greenhouse was born in 2014. J.P. Stevens’ faculty members and students set about raising $50,000, through a competitive grant from PSE&G for $20,000 and donations by 20 other community organizations, which made the greenhouse a reality. Under the guidance of high school teachers and student interns from Rutgers University’s Horticultural Therapy Program, students will grow produce during the summer, and will sell the produce at the farmers’ market in front of J.P. Stevens High School. The produce being cultivated includes strawberries, tomatoes, cherries, basil, bell peppers, eggplant, beans, pumpkin, and more. Meredith Quick, Assistant Principal at J.P. Stevens, said, “Our goal is for all students to learn the true meaning of living green, and be able to utilize these life skills learned for years to come.”
Edison High School students will prepare for employment in supermarket or retail careers. Edison High School will work in partnership with the largest employer in New Jersey, Wakefern Foods/ShopRite. Several classrooms in the high school have been transformed into a working ShopRite store operated by students. This affords high school students the opportunity to develop work place readiness skills and knowledge of the retail food industry. Nancy Sica, Supervisor for Pupil Special Services, stated, “Skills, such as retail operations, appropriate dress and hygiene, customer service, merchandising and stocking, cashiering, food safety, nutrition, security and maintenance, will also assist them throughout their chosen career paths.”
The “student store associates” are held accountable to the same standards as employees of a supermarket or retail business. Students in the course are very excited about the program, and demonstrate exceptional work ethic and enthusiasm to “get the job done.”
The greenhouse program at J.P. Stevens and the ShopRite program at Edison High School are lighthouse examples of the creativity of our teachers and supervisors. They have established these opportunities so our students will develop work place readiness and adaptive life skills to become productive and contributing members within the school and the community.
Frank Heelan Ed.D,
President, Edison Board of Education