This Is Carolina: Florence 1 Schools creates student run market

Exceptional Ed students learn skills beyond the classroom
Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 6:52 PM EST
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FLORENCE, S.C. (WMBF) - Special needs students from Florence 1 high schools are ready to work at the F1S Pepsi Market, an impressive store that’s housed inside the historic McClenaghan Administrative Building.

“We check the drinks to see any dates and mostly count them to see how much we got for inventory,” said 11th grade student, Nick Williamson.

Williamson walked us through their day-to-day operations, from checking expiration dates and inventory, to ringing up customers on their credit card machine and making special deliveries. But, Williamson said being a personal shopper is what he likes to do the most.

“I like helping people around here just in case they can’t make their own choices to find food, and there’s a lot around here so, it makes sense,” said Williamson.

The market offers more than just chips and Coke to hungry customers. Williamson is one of about 30 students who get to learn life skills along the way.

“I thought this could help me with some store experience because that’s a small job for me, so I can pick my real career for drawing,” Williamson explained.

Assistant Superintendent for Programs for Exceptional Children Brian Denny said they created the market late last year and teamed up with Pepsi and Pee Dee Foods to make it happen.

“A lot of our students are not earning their traditional high school diploma, so our focus is then job skills. What can they learn to be productive and when they leave here, go in and work,” he said. “That’s what we wanted to do, is to create something that was not only unique to Florence 1 but unique for our students.”

Denny believes he’s already seen a positive change in their students.

“Several of them just come in and shake my hand initially. When they first come in and they’re excited to see customers and in turn, the customers that we have in this building, they’re excited to see them here,” he said.

The school district said its goal is to eventually open the Pepsi Market to the public.

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