It's springtime in Texas. The weather is warming up and the air is thick and humid as students count down the days until summer break, but inside one Houston-area high school, a group of students isn't exactly tied to their desks.
They aren't in the gym, in home economics class or studying math. These students are inside Scarborough High School's mock Wal-Mart store, located just down the hall from traditional classrooms. The store is a lab of sorts, set up and paid for by the retail giant, complete with a cash register, shelves of inventory, and those familiar "rollback" pricing signs on each display.
As the students of all high school grade levels fill up the lab, their teacher Sarah Ray begins to lecture them on the finer art of retail seasonality as she stands amid racks of bathing suits and beach towels.
It's the end of the first year of a retail immersion class called Etail/Retail, which is the brainchild of Tracy Davis, director for the Center for Retail Management at the University of Houston—Downtown.
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Davis started the class, born out of his passion for the industry that he once worked in, as the first step in what he hopes will become a four-year program.
Retailers need good employees, school districts need their students to graduate, and high school students need to know there are career opportunities available to them, Davis said. With the class, it is a way to connect all three, he said.