TJ introduces the new Spirit Store for everyday Spartan gear.
This school year, the Thomas Jefferson High School Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) has upgraded the online school store to a store located right here on campus where students can buy all of the TJ gear their hearts desire.
The new Spirit Store is located across the hall from the auditorium. The PTO currently have parent volunteers, and are considering student volunteers to run the store. A few of the dedicated volunteer parents include Tommie Evans, Faye McGinnis, Spring Hericks, Kathryn Lepry and Debi Kelley. They are currently open on Tuesdays and Fridays during lunch from 11:15 to 12:00, on Wednesdays after school from 2:15 to 3:00, and on Thursdays in the morning before school from 6:45 to 8:30. The store has a table set up in the lobby near the auditorium on those days, and also during some major sports or other events. Principal Mike Christoff is working on getting a sliding window for the store so students can buy items directly from it. To purchase any Spirit gear, students can order online and meet Julie Thibodeau in her office during the school day to receive their order, or they can go directly to the store when they are open to purchase items. The Spirit Store sells a variety of Spartan gear, including different articles of clothing such as shirts, pants, sweatshirts, and hats. Other things sold at the store are PopSockets, Stadium Gear, and TJ logo stickers.
On the website, the prices for clothes and stadium gear range from one dollar to $50. The TJ T-shirts and class shirts are the cheapest, while long-sleeve T-shirts, pants, sweatshirts, and stadium gear are priced higher. “The PTO takes the proceeds from the sales and they turn that money into teacher grants. Every year the PTO asks TJ teachers to write grants which puts the money back into the classroom for the students,” Christoff said. The PTO gives out grants to the staff when requested to help fund any needs for supplies, field trips, and anything to support the curriculum.
TJ parent Laura Whalen, who is currently in charge of the Spirit Store, says that the hats, Under Armour quarter-zip shirts, and PopSockets are the most popular of the items. Thibodeau described why she volunteered to be in charge of the transactions between students, “I like to do my part for TJ and for the TJ partners. I know it is hard for the PTO to get access to the school store during the day, so I offered my assistance. I feel it helps the students and the PTO to have someone onsite to sell. I also have a student at TJ, so this way I am doing my part as a parent and helping out as a member of the TJ staff. It is a win-win situation.” Thibodeau has been a big part of the Spirit Store and has helped the PTO by stocking the store, managing inventory and student purchases. The store has not been open during school hours for very long, but has already seen a boost in sales.
The Spirit Store also has a mobile aspect to it, where the PTO brings a limited supply of items to events at the All City Stadium or on the TJ fields. Depending on the weather and location, the PTO supply items accordingly to what fans are most likely to want to buy. At the All City Field the stadium chairs are often very popular because there are bleachers. On cold days, the blankets are sold quickly, and the hats are popular on sunny days. At football games, there are always TJ football sweatshirts, hats, and t-shirts available.
The TJ Spirit Store has been so successful because the PTO has been running it with a great attitude and ambition to bring new gear to every student. The Spirit Store is not just a PTO fundraiser, but it is also a way for students, parents, and even teachers to become more involved in the TJ community. Whalen explained, “many parents have helped out at games and school events to setup the store and sell items. The PTO funds raised from the store are used to support the PTO’s mission and supply teacher grants for various projects as well as support various school activities.’’ The Spirit Store is not only a great outreach for the community, but it also raises funds that help the school, the staff, and the students.