Cutthroat Commons is Open for Business

The foyer of the Student Activity Center on Community School’s Trail Creek Campus has been transformed to support programming and boost school spirit.

The Student Activity Center is a hub of activity on Community School’s Trail Creek Campus. Any given day might see student-athletes and fans streaming through the doors for a basketball or volleyball game, the cast of a theater production learning lines on stage in the Theatre, and Elementary and Middle School PE students making the most of the gym.

Recently, the foyer of this essential school facility underwent a much-needed remodel to house the new Cutthroat Commons, a project supported by the Community School Board of Directors, the Parents’ Association (PA), and the student-led Cutthroat Business Club (CBC). The new space offers a welcoming, refreshed interior that includes a number of enhancements designed to serve the mission of the school and support activities that boost school spirit.

If you haven’t yet made a visit to the Cutthroat Commons, it’s hard to say what you will notice first. New carpet, paint, built-in cabinetry, light fixtures, and other improvements form the backdrop for a new school store, expanded communal student seating, an extended trophy case wall. Among the enhancements to the space is an 80” wall-mounted television monitor used to showcase student photos and videos and, in the future, livestream productions and events taking place in the Theatre.

A key element of the remodel was the replacement of the existing trophy case, and the foyer now includes a much-needed and expanded display area for Cutthroat awards and achievements. The new trophy wall more than doubles the amount of space of the old display case and will accommodate the array of trophies and awards students have earned over the years. “It’s important to recognize our student-athletes’ hard work and dedication,” said Director of Athletics Richard Whitelaw. “This is an exciting enhancement to our facility, and I am delighted that we will now be able to display all of our achievements appropriately.”

Must-have Cutthroat logo wear is also on display in the space in custom cabinetry, exhibiting offerings that range from traditional sweatshirts to high performance athletic gear to student-driven accessories. The store stocks sizes for youth and adults, and members of the CBC, with the help of PA volunteers and school staff members, will handle store sales. “Students, parents, and friends of the school love to wear Cutthroat logo wear, and in past years, we didn’t have the systems in place to sell logo wear easily and consistently,” said Director of Development Becca Hemingway. “The store will have regular business hours, making it easier to acquire what one needs, when one wants it.”

Plans are underway to continue to expand the store inventory, as well. “The sky’s the limit for what the store will sell,” Becca said. “For instance, we are thinking about creating ‘back-to-school’ supply packs to ease everyone’s transition in the fall as well as notebooks, pencils, and other necessities that students might need as the year goes on.” All monies raised support the PA and CBC. “The physical store, in addition to our new point-of-sales system, puts the pieces in place to sell school logo goods efficiently, raise funds, and enable turn-key ticket office and home game concession operations,” Becca continued. “The school store will serve to boost school spirit and build community, and the large group of individuals working on making this project a reality are all very excited about the many possibilities this space creates.”

Cutthroat Commons will not only serve students and parents but will also offer visitors to the Trail Creek Campus a sense of the school culture and mission directly upon entry. “The remodel of Cutthroat Commons brings this underutilized space in line with the rest of the first-class physical plant on the Trail Creek Campus,” Becca said. “Hundreds of visitors and potential applicants frequent this part of our campus year round. Local groups such as Company B, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony Music Institute, and nexStage summer theater program, as well as campus headliner and event attendees, use this space, and it was time to update the foyer into a welcoming campus focal point.” To this end, the space will also serve as a display area for school publications, admissions materials, and event promotions.

Beyond the significant improvements to the look, feel, and functionality of the space, an essential component of Cutthroat Commons project is to empower members of the CBC in meaningful, real-world ways. “Students have been and will continue to be at the forefront of this project,” Becca explained. “Not only are they helping select items to sell, but they are helping to staff the store, run special events and promotions, and generate enthusiasm and school spirit throughout the school. This project is a stepping stone to achieving our goal to create an elective course on financial literacy for Upper School students. Cutthroat Commons is a terrific entrepreneurial project to teach leadership, real world financial skills, and to bring in top business people from around the Wood River Valley and beyond to mentor students and teach them about running a business. In time, we would even like to fund grants to support student entrepreneurial initiatives and ideas.”

There’s no doubt that this enhanced space and related programming will benefit the entire community. Special thanks go to Rachel Aanestad, Eva DeWolfe, and Keith Keim for managing the project’s design and construction process; the PA, led by Co-Presidents Edith Wiedemann and Betsey Thomson, for providing early support for the remodel; Cutthroat Commons committee members Peggy Baker, Ellen Gillespie, Becca Hemingway, Liz Kantor, Melanie Kragerud, Julie LaFleur, Dorrie Marks, Jonna Mendes, Maureen Ott, Diana Price, Susie Ring, Virginia Robb, Katie Robins, Julie Siegel, and Betsey Thomson for their assistance in helping launch the new school store; Board Director Bill Griffin and former Board Director Rob McGowan for their advice; and CBC members Daffney Achilles, Hayden Baker, Crosby Boe, Isabella Bourett, Tillie David, Maddy Dunn, Sydney Felker, Rye Freuhling, Blake Harmon, Airey Jones, Noelle LaFleur, Lily Pogue, Savannah Spoor, Lola Street, and Alexandra Stuessi for their help and feedback.