Special education students refurbish boutique during pandemic closure

The Say It Again Boutique was refurbished by a group of Anoka-Hennepin special education students who learned valuable skills during the pandemic.

There has been a steady flow of customers inside Say It Again Boutique after the store was closed for several months to the pandemic 

Special education students from Anoka-Hennepin School District built, refurbished, and painted everything in the store.  

Now that’s it back open, it means students are receiving valuable job skills for life after high school again.  

"Say It Again is our storefront for our program," said Steve Christnagel, a work coordinator for the school district. "They’re learning soft skills the students need to gain but also keep employment. Everything from knowing safety through showing initiative, learning how to accept constructive criticism, and learning what quality of work really looks like." 

There are roughly 120 students in this work-based learning program in a year. And while students spend about eight hours a week making home décor items, school leaders say their time in the program is bigger than learning essential job skills.  

"It lets the students see that what they’re making, people actually want and come in and buy," Christnagel added.    

"It’s really important because they work really hard and they do a good job," said Cathy Linedecker, when asked about the importance of supporting the students.  

"I was excited about all the choices and I still feel like I need to make sure I’m not missing something," said teacher and store patron, Sandra Dunigan.  

Money spent in the store goes towards supplies for the student’s projects.  

Normal hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., except for school release days. There are a few times a month where hours are extended until the evening.  

The next late-night shopping opportunity will be held on April 29th when the store will be open until 7 p.m.