Grant Union’s school store is getting an upgrade, and students are leading the way.

The school store homes several school-based businesses that teach vocational and life skills, such as the coffee shop, according to Grant Union special education teacher Andrea Combs.

The room was historically a home economics room, so when they transitioned the room into a jobs skills room, many of the same cabinetry, plumbing and layout stayed the same.

“Through our vocational skills programs, we generated enough money to renovate this space to make it more versatile,” Combs said. “The coffee shop is relatively new to our program, and now we can create space to help develop the program.”

The donation of a coffee machine from the Corner Cup also gave momentum to carry out the remodeling to fully utilize the espresso machine.

Combs said the idea was pitched to create a class where senior students made up the design team.

Seniors Abby Lusco, Kenna Combs and Madison Spencer developed the designs for the project and made the design boards to present to staff and administrators for approval at the end of the last quarter.

“I really liked creating the design for it and getting to go on Pinterest to look for ideas,” Kenna Combs said. “We all had our own little section of the design and worked on different aspects when we worked on putting the presentation together.”

Spencer said she enjoyed the opportunity to be creative with the project’s design and getting to see the different layers of paint with various colors, showcasing changes to the wall over multiple years.

“I’m excited to see what we accomplish, and it was fun to put together a bunch of do-it-yourself projects,” Lusco said. “I’m glad, being a senior, I can make an impact on my school. I’m hoping, in the years to come, students will appreciate it and get a lot of use out of it.”

The team received help from Shanna Northway, who guided the design team last quarter.

Grant Union Principal Ryan Gerry said during a school board meeting on Jan. 20 that the project is a collaboration between the special education department and the CTE department.

“When we were tasking out design with what do we want out of this, we wanted some DIY projects that students could build or fabricate here,” Andrea Combs said. “We worked with Mr. Suchorski, our shop teacher, and students from his class are also working for him on this project. We’re trying to have the kid the central focus of it.”

Students are also working on site by completing the demolition and preparations with Kelsy Wright, the head custodian, overlooking and working with them on the project.

Senior Mason Kidd said it has been great to work on something that will stay at the school even after he leaves.

“This has been really cool, and it’s going to be something that’s always here every year,” Kidd said. “I also learned a lot about construction and how to build things the proper way.”

Along with the store and the coffee shop, the room will also provide space to teach essential life skills by providing a laundry center, a crafting center and a standard kitchen area to carry out baking and cooking.

“It’s really our vocational center for our special education center, so we’re trying to make sure that our kids get as wide of vocational experiences as they possibly can,” Andrea Combs said.


Rudy Diaz is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. Contact him at or 541-575-0710.

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