By Lisa Hughes

WESTBORO (CBS) – It’s a great place to be on the day before Valentine’s Day, but a candy store in Westboro is also part of an innovative school program. Older, special needs students work and learn at the Boro Sugar Shack and it’s changing their lives, one piece of candy at a time.

It’s crunch time at the store. It’s the first Valentine’s Day for the shop that opened on Main St. late last year. Their motto: “Be Sweet.”

Jimmy Rogers working at BORO Sugar Shack (WBZ-TV)

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to give back and also support some of the students here in Westboro,” says Michelle Weinstein who was picking up some Valentine candy.

The shop supports students like Shousei Honji and Jimmy Rogers. “I stock shelves. I cashier sometimes,” Jimmy says. “I learn vocational skills and stuff,” adds Shousei.

The Sugar Shack is part of a larger Westboro Public School program aimed at special needs students who have finished traditional high school, and are ages 18 to 22. “The main thing that they gain is the ability to socially interact with their community, and to grow in their independence and vocational skills,” says Dr. Sherrie Stevens, the Director of Student Services for Westboro.

BORO Sugar Shack (WBZ-TV)

“We have 11 students that are currently involved and working in this program,” adds Karen Bunton, the Special Education Coordinator for the town.

Think about the skills you need to work here; organization to keep the supplies ready, math to work the cash register, and a winning way with people. “It helps me learn by communicating with customers,” explains Shousei.

Shousei Honji and Jimmy Rogers behind the counter at the BORO Sugar Shack (WBZ-TV)

And it works for the students. “I work at a grocery store, at Roche Bros., and sometimes I cashier there,” Jimmy says.

And the happy customers. “Spending your money to do good work is great, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s sweet and wonderful to eat as well,” says customer Mary Anne Coveney.

The Sugar Shack has only been open for about three months. The store is supported by sales, the Westboro School Dept., and donations. But the goal is to become self- supporting.

Lisa Hughes


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