McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

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Crossing the bridge 

MCHS’s BRIDGES Program opened a store to provide real-life skills for the students in the program transitioning to adulthood
Carly Byer (used with permission)
Students from MCHS’s BRIDGES program cut the ribbon of Across the BRIDGE on Oct. 6 during the grand opening of their store at 1774 N. Richmond Rd. in McHenry.

The ribbon is cut. Everyone cheers, for this is not an ordinary Friday. MCHS’s BRIDGES program has just opened a store called Across the Bridge. The atmosphere is dazzling outside the small store. Pictures are taken and smiles are exchanged. For some people this is simply an opening of a store, but to the school and the students it is so much more.

Across the Bridge is a store opened by students in BRIDGES, a transitional program at MCHS for students 18-22 years old with disabilities. 

“BRIDGES stands for building responsibility, increased independence, decision-making, growth, engagement, and self-advocacy, ” said teacher Madison Schroth.

The metaphor of a bridge is used in this program to show that these students are striding from high school to adulthood.

“The goal of this educational program is to provide an authentic learning experience in which students make products, sell products, and manage a storefront,” said Schroth. “All items are handmade by the students of the BRIDGES program and are not for profit.” 

The main goal of Across the Bridge, located at 1774 N. Richmond Rd. in McHenry, is to provide students with valuable skills and learning experiences for their futures, while aiding their community. Students get experience with customer service, making products, stocking shelves, doing inventory, being a cashier or bagger, and more.

Matthew Woods has been in the program for a year now and their favorite part of the store is cutting and painting wood for products.

Another student, Dakota Ruiz, has been with the program for 3 years now and enjoys providing customer service.

BRIDGES’s store benefits these students because it gives them a feel for independence within adulthood. Some of the many benefits these students will receive with the new store are daily living skills, social skills, work based experience, personal responsibility, and post secondary counseling.

“We saw a need in the community and school for accessible employment,” added Schroth. “We spoke to the Director of Student Services and observed other Transition Programs with similar ideas to see how it was best to implement.” 

The program is currently partnered with fourteen local businesses for student internships. The store will sell bath bombs, bath salts, soaps, candles, seasonal decor and crafts and Across the Bridge t-shirts.

With this store only opening a few days ago the community is excited to see what this store brings. While buying from this store helps the students, the students get to help the community in more ways than they know, with their ever growing impact.

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