After it opened the retail store All Things Independence last September on the Square, the Independence School District has a partnering store ready to open just a couple doors away.
Taste of Independence is scheduled for a grand opening Friday, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony following the district's parade Saturday morning around the Square. The little shop, at 205 N. Main St., is directly north of Ophelia's restaurant, and like All Things Independence it was put together and is staffed by students from Truman, William Chrisman and Van Horn high schools.
Taste of Independence will serve as a capstone course for both business and culinary arts students. The culinary student produce their creations off-site at the Ennovation Center, which is in the same building complex as the school district's headquarters. The business students handle product development and work with some area vendors who also create tasty products at the Ennovation Center. McClain Industries donated flooring and light fixtures for the store.
“For us business students, it's very different learning how to market food rather than clothing,” said Truman senior Shelby Fordham, who has served as student manager for All Things Independence. “We want the culinary students to be creative.”
“The kids, we cross-collaborate,” said Cindy Schluckebier, the academy teacher who oversees the store. “It's a very unique experience.”
The menu of sweet treats, Schluckebier said, will be evolving. On display this week are chocolate-covered pretzels, mini cheesecakes, cherry-filled moon pies, chocolate chip croissants, a Rice Krispies treat concoction that includes almond bark and marshmallow, “Monster” cookies that are mix of different cookie batters and coconut-based “Haystacks” that are chocolate or peanut butter.
William Chrisman sophomore Hannah Noel said some customers who have come into the store already were “very surprised” to learn it is student-run. Noel herself is new to the real-life course.
“It was intimidating coming in, but I feel like I've learned a lot and grown a lot,” Noel said. “There's a lot of problem solving, figuring it out on your feet.”
That's one thing Schluckebier said she enjoys watching with her students.
“This is as real as education can get,” she said. “They find their own problems, and they have to find solutions to them.
“I love that it becomes engaging for the entire community. The academy model does a great job with that.”
Fordham said she appreciates the opportunity made possible by the district and McClain Industries.
“This is really a experience for students,” she said. “It's very gratifying when a product is made, we're marketing it and it gets sold.”