Student Retailers Respond to Changes in Business Landscape

Jenison High School’s ‘Green Bean’ coffee shop and ‘Cat’s Corner’ spirit store offer more than just a place to snag a tasty snack and the latest Wildcat wear. They are both self-sustaining, student run, school-based enterprises providing real life business experience. Students develop plans for the shop and are responsible for the operation, including details like ordering products and even dealing with the Health Department.

The Career and Technical Education classes in the business department at Jenison High School are relevant and help students gain valuable insight and skills for college or future careers. Through both levels of her Marketing Studies classes, Jordan Whittecar leads groups of students as they manage the operations for the storefronts. The student groups represent six different business ‘departments’ including Visual Merchandising, Operations, Digital Marketing, Human Resources, Finance/Inventory, and Promotion.

After an abrupt closure in March, the business students now face reopening both operations in a completely different business atmosphere. As the school year resumed, the marketing students have been part of the preparing and planning for this new business climate. Tackling the current challenges include restaurant trainings sponsored by the Governor’s office, writing their own Covid-19 Preparedness and Response Plan and planning a shift in distribution for the sale of retail items.

Last week, students representing the Operations team met with high school principal, Dr. Brandon Graham, and presented their plans to reopen both storefronts and safely move forward. Approval was given and they are very excited to be back serving customers soon. 

The Green Bean coffee shop is located in the High School Media Center. This was an important part of their original intent to provide a central location for students to enjoy a beverage or snack and relax or get some homework done in a casual environment. However, current social distancing practices and limiting the gathering of people throughout the school building makes it impossible for students to visit the Green Bean. The students went to work figuring out what would be needed to shift to a ‘take-out’ and ‘delivery’ model. They will be putting technology to work for them and utilizing a website order form. This will allow students to pick up their order or receive a delivery.

The Green Bean delivery cart will be visiting classrooms soon to serve students and teachers. Hannah Gingerich is ready to offer service with a smile.

Students, Sophia Velez and Alyson Scholten have been stepping into leadership roles getting both stores open. They recently represented the students in a virtual brainstorm session with Erin Mitrzyk, a designer from the Visual Merchandising team at Wolverine Worldwide

Advanced Marketing Students Sophia Velez and Alyson Scholten

They came away with some real life application and ideas to reopen and encourage sales to continue. The marketing students will proceed to evaluate the ideas, which include a possible new reward and incentive program for both students and teachers, a program to schedule automated orders (managing workload of orders and minimizing classroom disruption), and a possible alternative payment method suitable for students of all ages (reloadable payment card or account).

Cat’s Corner is also located inside the high school and is following social distancing and mask protocols as you see in other retail locations around town. Currently, customers who are not students and/or teachers are not allowed in the building. This has required the students to investigate other ways to keep business moving. Online ordering has already been an option so they will continue to evaluate ways to make that a seamless process with affordable shipping options. Something new for this year is a tent sale scheduled for next week. It’s really exciting to see these students embracing the current challenges and coming up with some creative ideas. If you’re able to support either of these student businesses, please do – and be prepared to be impressed at the professional level of service and goods!

The Cat’s Corner Tent Sale outdoor tent sale is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday (September 30 and October 1) from 7:30am – 5:00pm both days. Stop by for some great deals on Jenison merchandise.

Orders can also be placed on the Cat’s Corner website and shipped directly to you. SHOP NOW at

Check out other stories about Cat’s Corner and the Green Bean:

Wildcat DECA Champions



Wrapping up the school year is always an exciting time as we see the culmination of a year’s worth of work. This week, we celebrate with the Jenison DECA team as they traveled to the International Career Development Conference in Florida. Not only did they represent our community well with their hard work and ingenuity, one group finished in the top 3 – the first in a decade for Jenison.


Emma Scott, Alyssa Sumption and Mackenzie Sanders, Jenison DECA Team, School Based Enterprise – Retail (Cat’s Corner), came home with 3rd place in the International competition!

The Jenison High School Business program has partnered with DECA  for 30 years to further classroom instruction and enhance students’ preparation for college and business careers.

Mrs. Jordan Whittecar and Mr. Joel Hunt are JHS business educators and DECA advisors. Together, they led 140 students participating in DECA challenges and projects this year. Over half of those students advanced to the State Competition, and this week, the World finalists traveled for the chance to finish out their year with a final competition. 

Alyssa Sumption topped off her senior year and 3rd DECA experience by finishing in 3rd place with her team at the International competition. What a finish! She competed in School Based Enterprise for Retail Operations. She’s so excited to share this honor with Emma Scott and Kenzie Sanders. The paper was submitted for certification in January for the Cats Corner (school store in the High School), and they presented the Market Planning section in competition.


Alyssa and her team preparing for the world competition in Florida this week.

“The biggest skill I acquired from DECA was real world marketing skills. After DECA I can make any print ad, create any promotional campaign, come up with a marketing communications plan or even properly run an organization social media account. After being in DECA, it’s safe to say I’m ready for whatever gets thrown my way in my future career in marketing.” Alyssa is looking forward to the future with great memories of the whole process. She is grateful for the priceless experience that is DECA.  

However, it wasn’t all work and no play. The students look back fondly on the memories of bonding with their classmates on this trip with trips to Disney and hanging out at the hotel pool!


Jason Hoffman enjoyed his first year in DECA as a senior this year working on a Virtual Business Challenge with a focus in Accounting. Competing with a presentation outlining preloaded accounting data which is given in a computer simulation window. Jason’s challenge was to find fraud and errors. These could include mis-charging customers, not paying taxes, or not reporting bank withdrawals. “DECA has prepared me with a lot of financial knowledge and rhetoric that will significantly help me communicate with others and find jobs. I learned about personal finance, networking, and accounting skills.”


Jason Hoffman (right) competing at ICDC

He is proud that he was the first Jenison student to qualify for Internationals with a virtual business presentation. Jason’s only regret is that he didn’t participate in DECA sooner as he feels he could have learned so much and it would have really enhanced his high school experience. After school, he hopes to go to Michigan Tech for computer science and math.

I’m so grateful for programs, and the investment of our teachers to develop our students on all levels. Giving them the opportunities to expand their minds, grow their talents and discover new passions. Congratulations to all the DECA participants and finalists. We are all very proud of you!

Jenison students receiving recognition at the international level include:

Girschle, Zachary Entrepreneurship Team Decision Making International Qualifier
Luce, Parker Entrepreneurship Team Decision Making International Qualifier
Sumption, Alyssa School Based Enterprise – Retail 3rd Place Overall
Sanders, Mackenzie School Based Enterprise – Retail 3rd Place Overall
Scott, Emma School Based Enterprise – Retail 3rd Place Overall
Cosby, Kathryn Business Operations Research Event – Merchandising International Qualifier
Likic, Vanessa Business Operations Research Event – Merchandising International Qualifier
Molenje, Clarence Finance Team Decision Making International Qualifier
Longstreet, Travis Finance Team Decision Making International Qualifier
Voss, Jeffrey School Based Enterprise – Food International Qualifier
Olszewski, Danielle School Based Enterprise – Food International Qualifier
Graham, Johan School Based Enterprise – Food International Qualifier
Fisher, Lyndsey Business Operations Research Event – Finance International Qualifier
Hansen, Lauren Business Operations Research Event – Finance International Qualifier
Hoffman, Jason Virtual Business Accounting 11th Place Overall
Strick, Megan Professional Selling – Hospitality International Qualifier
Maurice, Owen Integrated Marketing Campaign – Event International Qualifier
Tease, Mady Integrated Marketing Campaign – Event International Qualifier


Teams putting the finishing touches on their presentations before the final judging.



Mr. Joel Hunt and Mrs. Jordan Whittecar escorted the Jenison DECA Finalists to the World Competition in Florida, April 25 – May 1, 2019


Zachary Girschle and Parker Luce, Jenison Entrpreneurship Team with Mrs. Jordan Whittecar


Travis Longstreet and Clarence Molenje, Jenison Finance Team


Owen Maurice and Mady Tease, Jenison Integrated Marketing Team








Joel Hunt, Mackenzie Sanders, Alyssa Sumption, Emma Scott, Jordan Whittecar


JHS’ Green Bean Gives Many a Reason to Smile

At just one year old, the Green Bean in-school coffee shop is doing more than adding a splash of caffeine to the lives of Jenison High School teachers and students. It’s adding warmth, both literally and figuratively, to the lives of all who cross the threshold.

Jenison High School, Jenison Public Schools, Green Bean Coffee Shop

This past winter, after diligent effort by Dr. Brenda Clark and her DECA students Emily Garland, Jon Nordquist, and Anthony Lemanski, the Green Bean was awarded a Gold Level Certification for this School Based Enterprise (SBE). According to the DECA website:

“The School-based Enterprise Certification Program was developed to provide recognition for outstanding achievement by school-based enterprises and to motivate SBEs to strive for excellence and to grow. The program provides SBEs with standards for model school store operation and provides recognition for school-based enterprises at three levels: bronze, silver and gold. The number and type of activities a school-based enterprise completes in each of the twelve sections will determine the level of certification awarded.” (quote HERE)

Jenison Public Schools, Jenison High School, Green Bean

But more than an award-winning feather in our cap, the Green Bean is helping to create community within our student body. With booths for breakfast or biology homework, students are welcomed into this space and invited to snag a muffin and a cappuccino before class.

Student employee and 2013 graduate Desiree Kennedy says that not only is it fun getting to know new people and interacting with underclassman, but working in the Green Bean is a welcome way to break up her day. She knows that making smoothies and pouring coffee prepares her for real-world work, encourages teamwork and collaboration, and creates an atmosphere of friendship.

Jenison High School, Jenison Public School, Green BeanPrincipal Brandon Graham is proud of the success of the shop and is quick to share credit with others.

“The Green Bean has been a terrific real-life entrepreneurial experience for our kids. They helped construct this business from the ground up — from the build out to the business plan to the execution of daily operations. Under the leadership of Dr. Clark, this has been an exceptional opportunity for Jenison High School students to grow.”

When autumn rattle the leaves again and the wind blows colder, stop in for a warm drink and tip your hat to those who are going the extra mile to bring some java to Jenison.

JHS Senior Emily Garland a Record Quadruple DECA Qualifier!

Today, to help celebrate Ms. Garland’s achievements, we will be featuring Emily “in her own words.” It is worth noting that no other Jenison High School Student has ever achieved this level of success in DECA!

Dr. Clark had this to say, ” I am so proud that a student who has worked so hard, understood what it takes to compete at a district, state, and international level, and put in the time and effort needed to do all that work.  She is almost irreplaceable as one of the students I know that when handed any project, large or small, will get it done.  Beyond that she is the ideal student – intellectually curious, motivated, always positive, strong ethics, and a willingness to help wherever needed without complaining.”

We congratulate Emily’s diligence in pursuing excellence.

Emily Garland, DECA, Jenison High School, Jenison Public School

DECA allows you to meet people with the same passions as you from all over the country and, if you qualify for Internationals, from all over the world! I am a very shy person, but through DECA I have learned to get past being shy, to not let opportunities pass me by, and to become a leader.

DECA is a club to help develop the future business leaders of the world. One way it does this is through the competitions it has, such as the role plays where you are given an issue and you have ten minutes to plan out a solution to this.

The first event I worked for was the Stock Market Game. This was an investing simulation from September to December that was a part of my marketing class. We did research into stocks and made investments based on this. I had the 23rd best return out of over 2000 people which qualified me to compete in this event in the International Career Development Conference (ICDC).

The second competition I worked on was the School Based Enterprise in November up until January. I worked with two other people to write a 60 page paper on our new coffee shop, The Green Bean. When this got gold certification (which is the highest it could receive), I had another opportunity to compete at ICDC. I chose not to compete in this and instead give my spot to someone else who had not qualified.

Another event was THRIVE Academy which functioned in conjunction with DECA week. I helped my team mates in some of the daily events such as painting the rock, asking trivia at lunch, and working a DECA question table. In the end they chose that I would get one of the spots.

The last event I qualified in was Principles of Finance. In March I was a state champion in this role play competition along with four other people out of 70 people total. This was the final competition that I qualified for. Quadruple Qualifying means that I qualified in four separate events to go to the International Career Development Conference in Anaheim California. This means that I got to pick which event I’d want to compete in; I chose to go with the Stock Market Game.

I’d like to thank Dr. Clark for helping me so much in every project I’ve done. She allowed me to work on these projects during her classes and was always there for questions that I had. Dr. Clark has helped me become a leader and be the best I can be. This is my first year in DECA but it is because of Dr. Clark that I’ve done what I’ve done. I never thought I would be an officer and I never thought I would get the opportunity to go to California, but her support helped me to achieve so much more than I thought I ever could.

This fall I will be starting my first semester of college at Aquinas. I plan on studying business and work towards starting a collegiate DECA. I’m sad that high school DECA will be done, but I believe that the experiences it has given me will help me to excel in college and in my future career.

Jenison High School DECA Students Take Honors

Jenison High School, DECA, student leaders, Cats Corner, Green BeanThis winter, Jenison High School DECA students achieved something remarkable when they were awarded Gold Level Certification for the high school’s newly-opened Green Bean Coffee Shop, and Gold Level Re-Certification for the 35 year-old Cat’s Corner.

Achieving this status requires months of rigorous paperwork that results in a determination for Bronze, Silver, or Gold Status. Students must collaborate to articulate how operations are sustainable and environmentally friendly, outline all emergency exits, describe store products, and detail equipment and product pricing, to name a few.

Working on the Gold-Level Certification for the Green Bean were Emily Garland, Jon Nordquist, and Anthony Lemanski. Students submitting work on the Re-Certification of the Cat’s Corner were Caleb Adrianson, Haley Venlet, and Monique Viau.

Jenison High School, DECA, student leaders, Cats Corner, Green BeanDECA student Edwin Ramirez volunteers in the Green Bean during his first hour Advanced Marketing class, and often spends lunch hours manning the Cat’s Corner as well.

“I like the hands on work. I enjoy taking the time to help. Customer satisfaction is a big thing, and it’s cool when teachers from around the district come in for coffee or to shop. I have a little brother in elementary school, and now his teachers know me. I like that.”

Jon Nordquist has been working in the Cat’s Corner for three years, and now has his fourth hour class scheduled as “co-op” time so that he can commit more dedicated time to this school-based enterprise (SBE).

“Working in the middle of the day gives me a break — I’m a really energetic person and I love getting up and interacting with people. It’s the best part of my day.”

Jenison High School, Cat's Corner, Green Bean, DECA

All the students agreed that whether they’re selling T-shirts or cappuccinos, participating in DECA has given them skills that will last a lifetime. Learning how to present themselves as young professionals, to dress the part, to be self-motivated and pursue excellence, and to work well with others are tools that will advance them in any future endeavor.

Dr. Clark is quick to credit her students for this success. “We had 9 students qualify for the International DECA Conference through written projects and online competitions even before the State Conference was held!”

Congratulations to this dedicated group of students! Jenison is proud of you!

JPS DECA Students Top in the Nation!

(L to R) Ethan Gechoff, Nikole Birdsall, Taylor Achterhoff

When Ethan, Nikole, and Taylor first clicked open the Deloitte Virtual Team Challenge this winter, they never thought their work would bring them acclaim as one of the premier teams in the nation! With well over 400 high school teams competing, their third place finish lands them at the top of the class!

As part of Dr. Clark’s business class, students teamed up and dove into Deloitte’s challenge to enter an online “virtual” city that was recently affected by an oil spill. As leaders of a fictitious non-profit agency, each team was charged to raise money to clean up their city, research the backgrounds of agencies that could be hired to do the work of controlling the ecological disaster, and investigate and identify a charity insider who was secretly siphoning money from the group.

Teams were judged on total overall money “raised” for the charity group. That means that their research into clean-up agencies, for instance, was paramount. Did they secure workers at the best price possible? Did they stop the insider from stealing from the charity?…and after how much money was taken? These things, and more, contributed to the end dollar figure that determined the contest winners.

After three weeks of work together, this team of seniors rang in $212,053!! 

Nikole speculated on their work, “What I think we perhaps did better than other teams was to do our research well. We used the provided tools like an online dictionary and we interviewed correctly so we hired workers at the right price.”

Dr. Brenda Clark explains the intricacies of the DECA challenge.

Dr. Clark estimated that teams contributed 10-12 hours of work to complete the challenge, which, incidentally, is the first of its kind ever attempted by Jenison business students.

“I loved that this project forced students to consider environmental and ethical factors such as finding the right people to hire and making wise decisions about terminating employment. There are endless ways in which ethics play into business, and the Deloitte challenge encompassed many of them,” Dr. Clark explained.

For their third place finish, Deloitte donated $500 to our local United Way chapter, as well as giving each of the three team members $50. Dr. Clark received $50 for classroom supplies and the high school was given $50 for technology, all courtesy of Deloitte!

(photo courtesy of Dr. Brandon Graham)

Adding to the excitement in the high school business department is the amazing work of seniors Nikole Birdsall and Levi Adrianson on the National Financial Literacy Challenge. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Treasury with the hopes of increasing financial literacy in high schoolers nationwide, this test was taken by all JHS business students and 80,000 students nationwide!

Levi Adrianson and Nikole Birdsall

For the first time in JPS history, both Nikole and Levi scored 100% on this test! Furthermore, their scores have placed them  in the running for one (each) of twenty-five scholarships given to college-bound students.

Our sincere congratulations to the terrific work of Dr. Clark and her business students! We are proud of your exceptional accomplishments!