GREENVILLE — Although summer has yet to officially start, this week has seen high temperatures and sunny days.
Staff and students at the Seiter Education Center in Greenville took advantage of the perfect conditions to host a yard sale Thursday and Friday. Their goal: To raise money to buy things for the school store.
Students can visit the school store on Fridays and redeem tickets they earn by being nice, safe and responsible.
The Seiter Center is a school for students with special needs within the Montcalm Area Intermediate School District.
Kory Stevens, a transition teacher at the school, said all items at the sale were donated by school staff and members of the community.
“We started brainstorming some ideas on how to raise some money,” he said. “Everyone sounded like they had some things that they could donate. We started out small, and all of a sudden a lot of people donated a lot of stuff.”
Kory said planning for the yard sale started in May and the donations have been collecting at the school ever since. He was hopeful the sale would unload many of the items donated, joking that he wasn’t sure exactly what they would do with everything they end up with at the end of the sale.
The event gave students the chance to get out of the classroom and interact with people from the community. Kory said not many people know much about the Seiter Center and he’s hoping by welcoming the community in for a yard sale, more people will take an interest in the school and its students.
“anytime we can get people in our driveway and interacting with our students, it’s a win-win,” he said.
Kory also hopes having residents interact with students will break down the barriers between them.
“I think people see students with severe impairments, and non-verbal students and students maybe look a little different and they don’t know how to interact,” he said. “If we can kind of get them (community members) to understand to speak to them (the students) like a normal human being, they might not be able to respond verbally but don’t feel uncomfortable. Don’t feel like you can’t say hi.”
He noted people sometimes don’t know what to say or do around people with impairments, but the only way to break down those barriers is to interact.
“We’re out in Meijer all the time. We do different things out in the community. Maybe when they (the community) see them (the students) in Meijer, they’ll know they can say hi to this student and that’s how to interact,” he said.
Students of all ages and levels got to be a part of the yard sale.
Jill Stevens, another teacher at the center, said students were excited about being involved in the sale and they are also excited about going to pick out some cool items for the school store.
“We’ve been practicing saying ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ and communication,” she said. “We’re introducing life skills and putting those skills to use in the communication factor, which is huge for our students … learning to communicate with people they don’t know.”
Jill said staff members made it a point to have students interact with the yard sale customers as much as they could.
“I think our students, sometimes, can be intimidating to others,” she said. “It’s neat to give them an opportunity to interact … and I think people have enjoyed doing it.”