On Sept. 22, Williamsville East High School’s revamped athletic fields officially opened. Within this multimillion dollar complex is something noteworthy for the school: a modern concession stand. What’s even more remarkable is that it’s being run by the students themselves.
One club at Williamsville East stepped up to the challenge of running the concession stand on opening night. This club was Future Business Leaders of America, commonly known as FBLA.
FBLA is among the largest clubs at East, with 340 members in the past year. The organization is the largest career student organization in the world, with membership upward of 250,000. Its purpose is to bring business and education together, creating leaders for tomorrow.
At Williamsville East, the high school’s FBLA chapter prepared for weeks leading up to opening night. Similar to running a small business, a concession stand requires plenty of planning, leadership and commitment.
"This is a really great opportunity that our kids can learn from," said Anthony Scanzuso, Williamsville East High School principal.
Along with supervising staff and the chapter adviser, Michelle Anzalone, the FBLA officer team was entrusted with the daunting task of operating the venue. From conducting transactions to grilling hot dogs, everyone had a job to do.
"Once we were given the opportunity to manage the state-of-the-art concession stand, I worked with Ms. Anzalone in order to delegate the numerous tasks to our officers based on each individual’s strengths and position held. Through weekly conference calls, we were able to make this concession stand come to life," said senior Ann Wang, FBLA chapter president.
At 6 p.m. on opening night, the ribbon-cutting ceremony began, signaling the official opening of the new athletic fields, including the highly anticipated concession stand.
The stand offers a multitude of foods and refreshments. Some are the usual, like hot dogs and pizza. Some are unusual, like ramen, starting at $1 a cup. Water, soft drinks, hot chocolate and iced coffee all are available. There are also meal deals starting at $5.
Unlike other venues that take solely cash, the FBLA officers came up with a way to use Square, a secure credit card-processing system, to further modernize the concession stand.
"Being able to use the Square point of sale system to process credit cards allowed for a lot more flexibility when it came to checking people out, since most people don’t even carry cash nowadays," said junior Jordan Richheimer, FBLA chapter co-vice president.
The pressure on the students really kicked up a notch at half-time, as hundreds of attendees lined up outside the concession stand.
"Everybody was working on something at all times, whether it was preparing the nachos, ramen or hot dogs. It got quite chaotic with orders constantly flying around," senior Sherrie Wang said.
However, this didn’t stop them from working in sync. "Teamwork is a major component of any business, and the officer team did a perfect job at showing what a success teamwork can be if done right," said Anzalone, the FBLA adviser and business teacher. "At the opening game, our students worked in tandem doing what they were told to do, jumping in where somebody may have needed help, and just made it happen."
Ann added, "Although a large group can be difficult to manage, clear communication facilitated teamwork."
The season’s first football game ended with a victory for Williamsville East over Sweet Home, 21-7. The concession stand was a victory, too. Anzalone said, "I was nervous, excited, overwhelmed and then overall so proud of what we accomplished. I was ecstatic to hear the amount of compliments received from the community in whole about the student-run concession stand."
However, the students’ duties were not over. After the hectic night, there was bound to be a fair amount of cleaning to do. "We thought the night was over when all the people left, but it turns out we had to stay behind to scrub dishes and disinfect counters," said junior Sharan Prasad.
Sharon Luo is a junior at Williamsville East High School.