BATTLE CREEK — A store inside Lakeview High School is gaining national attention.
Spartan Spirit Shop, the student-run business led by Lakeview DECA students, is among more than 400 school-based enterprises achieving gold level certification for the 2022-23 school year.
Students will be formally recognized during DECA’s International Career Development Conference April 22-25 in Orlando, Florida, where they will compete for the title of best school-based enterprise in the world.
“Seeing hard work pay off is just a great feeling,” said Caleb Bost, a Lakeview senior and co-executive director of the project. “We all work really hard. … Just step-by-step we’ve built (the store) up to where we are now. It’s great to see it all pay off.”
The student-run business is part of the Lakeview chapter of DECA, the international nonprofit career and technical student organization. Launched in 1946 as Distributive Education Clubs of America, DECA now describes itself as an association of marketing students.
Lakeview students participate in the co-curricular program through courses such as intro to business, marketing, and school store operations as well as local, state and national-level competitions.
Lakeview’s school store has operated for 23 years. This year, the store scored the highest in the history of any Lakeview High School school-based enterprise.
“DECA gives Lakeview students unique opportunities for hands-on, business and workforce skill development. Under the leadership of Mrs. (Myra) Bost, our students continue to be recognized at the state, national and internal levels for their entrepreneurial and leadership skills,” Lakeview Superintendent William Patterson said in a statement. “Lakeview students are graduating college and career ready and DECA plays a big role in that preparation for our students.”
Bost, as Lakeview DECA chapter advisor, has overseen the school store since its inception 23 years ago. Slushies were the first product, and continue to be a best-seller today, alongside a variety of T-shirts, sweatshirts and other spirit wear.
“To see it evolve to this is awesome for sure,” Myra Bost said. “The kids are inspiring.
“I’m a very blessed teacher because these kids care, you know, because they have ownership of it,” she continued. “I feel like I’ve done my job if they can run it without me.”
Juniors Allaynna Mead and Emilee McMann, and Myra’s son Caleb Bost, serve as the executive directors of the school store project, with support from additional students who help maintain the store. The store is open during lunch periods and after school Monday through Friday.
Students typically are first introduced to the store through a marketing class, with the option to move on to school store operations — focused on the “back of house” operations to get the store ready each day — and retail management where students actually run the store.
“The behind the scenes stuff like accounting, stocking, all of that type of stuff, you learn that in here and I think it’s a really cool experience because most other clubs and organizations don’t give you the opportunity” for that real-world experience, Caleb Bost said. “This has helped fuel my love for (business)… I’m going to college to do it.”
This year, in addition to maintaining the brick-and-mortar spirit shop at the high school Lakeview DECA students launched an online store, expanding their reach considerably.
Homecoming T-shirts, sold online and in-person, generated more than $10,000 in sales alone.
“Last year we made a little over $17,000 in sales and this year we’ve already made over $62,000 in sales,” McMann explained, admitting the substantial increase is due in large part to the addition of the online store.
“The money goes back into the store so we can operate the store, buy all of our merchandise,” Mead said. The profits also go toward DECA “to help pay for the trips that we go on, that way no student has to suffer from not going on a trip because of their financial status.”
This year’s trip to Orlando offers all the more motivation as students work to improve upon a school-best third place finish in the international competition.
“Last year, I did not expect to walk out of that with third place overall as a team. It was insane, I couldn’t believe it, and I still can’t,” Caleb Bost said. “I know this year we’re going to be even better, I have no doubt in my mind about that.”
For more information about Lakeview DECA, visit facebook.com/LakeviewDECA1
Contact reporter Greyson Steele at email@example.com
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