Den of Delight

The Tiger Den snack shop on the 2nd floor benefits both the customers and the workers.


photo by Kendel Barber

Senior Patrick Birmingham runs the Tiger Den counter each morning on the second floor. The shop benefits the Special Education Department and offers NASH students discounted snacks and beverages.

Looking to grab a quick snack during homeroom? The Tiger Den, located in room 258 on the second floor next to the main stairs, is in its third year of operation as a student-run shop selling snacks and drinks. The unique shop is run by the Special Education Department, whose students man the counter and dish out everything from pop tarts to bottles of Snapple.

“Our kids love the interaction with the other students in the school,” special education teacher Melinda Beck said.

The Tiger Den, open every homeroom throughout the year, was created with the purpose of exposing students to more functional skills that can be helpful for jobs in the future.

“Out students are learning money skills, social skills, and customer service, and the shop gives them more experience communicating with their typical peers,” Beck added.

Steven Reybein and Alex Hladio

Matt Hreha, one of Beck’s colleagues in the department, is also pleased with the success of the shop.

“It began with the district’s vision statement about preparing all students for success in a changing world,” Hreha said.  “The Tiger Den students get a real-world experience every morning.”

The shop is also a boon to hungry and thirsty students who are looking for a quick way grab a refreshment without the hassle of maneuvering the bustling cafeteria during homeroom.

“I love the students who operate the Tiger Den,” NASH senior Mary Orr said.  “They’re more pleasant than any other shop I’ve ever been to.” 

The Tiger Den at NASH is similar to the snack cart at NAI. Both are run by students in special education with the same goal of promoting student interaction and life skills, and both sell similar snacks, including muffins, refrigerated drinks, chips, Pop Tarts, gum, cookies and much more.

Our kids love the interaction with the other students in the school.”

— Melinda Beck, special education teacher

In addition to food and drinks, the NASH shop runs custom T-shirt sales, thanks to the adjacent Print Shop, also run by the Special Education Department. The Print Shop, in its second full year of operation, has made shirts for various clubs and activities around the school, offering lower prices than those found at outside companies. 

“We made 400 T-shirts for Trick or Trot, we just made the NHS T-shirts, and we made some general North Allegheny gear that we sold at football games on Friday nights,” Beck said.

The proceeds of the shop go to several places.

“We put some of the money back into the shop because we are buying more machinery and shirts and stuff like that,” Beck said. “The rest of the proceeds go to field trips for our students to get community-based instruction. We also have donated to Toys for Tots in the past.” 

Beck and her team have high hopes for the future of the shop.

“Business is picking up this year, and the t-shirt sales have been especially successful,” she said. “Next semester, we are hoping to have a smoothie stand.”