MARLBOROUGH – Like other student stores, the Panther’s Den offers an array of snacks, drinks and merchandise.
It also offers copying and shredding services, and can even do laundry.
The Panther’s Den, located near the Textiles program on the main floor at Marlborough High School, gives the students in MPS’ special education programs the opportunity to work at several tasks.
Opened in early October, the Panther’s Den has been a big hit, according to the staffers who got the store up and running.
“We started the school store, the Panther’s Den, as a way to provide in-house vocational opportunities for our students in a variety of programs in Marlborough High School,” said Emily Meehan, a transition specialist for the high school.
Sheri Mistretta, another transition specialist and Meehan’s supervisor, had experience in running a student store.
“So far, so good,” she said. “We’re getting a following among the staff.”
Currently, the store – open to MPS staff only – sells snacks, sodas, and merchandise such as water bottles, coffee and coffee mugs. MHS clothing could be available soon, said Meehan.
Funds for the initial stock came from the special education account, said Meehan.
“Once we become more established, we will be using the money we make to put right back into the store for more items and restocks,” she added.
The student volunteers staffing the store are enrolled in the Connections and TLC programs (for grades 9-12), and the LIFE and Pathways programs (for ages 18-22).
“During their time in the store, students complete a number of tasks depending on their preferences and ability levels. Some of the tasks they complete are money management, cleaning, socializing with customers and co-workers, restocking, clerical work and so much more,” said Meehan.
Christopher M., another Pathways member, said he’s been learning how to count change and restock.
“I like it when people come,” said Jocelyn, a volunteer who is in the Pathways postgraduate program.
According to Meehan, a total of 12 student volunteers work per day, in two- to three-person shifts.
“The administration has been really helpful,” said Meehan.
“We are all proud of the students and teachers who worked together to make the Panther Den a reality for our school. This is a wonderful opportunity that has been established for our post-graduate students,” said MHS Principal Dan Riley.
The Panther’s Den is currently open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.
The store staff will be running a pop-up shop on the weekend of Nov. 18 and 19 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Weed Street parking lot. According to Meehan, the students hope to sell ornaments and seasonal apparel.