Students and staff from the Aurora School gathered around the Peacock House Monday afternoon to celebrate the grand opening of the Paxton Attraction.
Executive Director Jennifer Lassiter described it as a small, self-supporting convenience store, which offers sandwiches, snack and drinks for the campus' patrons.
Adults with disabilities will run it, she said, as well as Aurora students who are learning vocational skills.
“They can practice their skills in the Paxton Attraction and then whenever we find them employment in the community they will have the skills they need to be successful,” Lassiter said, adding that the store will allow students to take inventory, work the register, prep meals and keep up with the building’s maintenance.
Administrative Director Courtney Deal Vaughan said she “loves” the idea.
“It’s so neat to see how independent [the students] have become in just a short period of time,” she said. “Now we have them coming and buying things like their out in the community all the time.”
One student said he thought it was a great idea to open the store. It has everything I love, he said, including apple sauce in a pouch.
Jaquan, 10, and Sam, 9, said they enjoyed the drinks, popsicles and carrots. They are too young to work in the store but would like to consider it in the future.
According to Lassiter, the Paxton Attraction is the fourth expansion at the campus within the past three years. It’s one more step in providing the services needed for people with disabilities in Loudoun County, she said, and it couldn’t have been done without the community’s support.
Leesburg Mayor Kristen C. Umstattd, Council Member Katie Hammler and Loudoun Chamber of Commerce President Tony Howard were all in attendance during the ribbon-cutting event.
“It’s a beautiful place and it’s definitely a different way to spend their school day,” Lassiter said. “This is a real life, practical application of their education and they seem to really be blooming.”
The Paxton Attraction will have limited hours, Lassiter said. It is located in the Peacock House, adjacent to Maggie’s Closet.