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Briana Franz working at the new APEX kiosk, The Merch.

The Merch is about more than just selling APEX merchandise, it provides a real-world experience for special education students they can carry with them forever.

Waukee APEX recently opened The Merch to sell supplies, novelty items and provide a location to see sample apparel before ordering online. The Merch is a small kiosk, designed and assembled by APEX students, located at the Waukee Innovation and Learning Center (WILC). Waukee High School special education teacher Amy Llewellyn manages The Merch while eight students take turns working at the kiosk on Mondays and Wednesdays from 12:00 to 2:15 p.m.

“The Merch provides our students a real-life setting to practice their work skills, while still in the safety of a school setting,” said Llewellyn, “Students are able to practice skills such as counting money, greeting a customer, using a calculator, following directions and work appropriate social behavior.”

Students are already excited and enjoying the experiences The Merch is able to provide.

“My favorite part of working at The Merch is learning new things and doing something different during the school day,” Briana Franz said, “I really like getting work experience.”

The Merch is Waukee Community School District’s second real-world experience available for special education students. The Warrior Coffee shop opened five years ago and is located in room 643 at Waukee High School.

When the special education instructors at WHS feel that a student should begin developing life skills such as experience in the retail department, they look for a position that would be a good fit for them.

Franz says that her experience at The Merch and the Warrior Coffee Shop have influenced her to consider continuing with a career as a cashier. “I’ve learned a lot from working,” Franz said. “I enjoy counting money, organizing, sorting and talking to the customers.”