LIVERMORE -- Wind your way through the halls at Granada High School and you'll find room 406 -- also known by the kids as "The door in the wall in the 400 hall."

In that small space, teacher Denise Watson-Lum's students are floating a new business model -- a balloon store run by the district's special education transition students. Watson-Lum came up with the idea as an entrepreneurial addition to the class' job training program.

"It's good for them to have small business experience, which can translate into other skills," she said. "We teach small business principles, and the same rules apply everywhere. They can take what they're learning from this model and open an aircraft detailing business, a dog-walking business, anything."

The students refurbished the room themselves, debated the type of business they wanted to run and studied the competition before opening "Matador Mylars," named after Granada's mascot. They're busy learning the basics of everything from accounts receivable to inventory to operating a cash register. Class members advertise on campus and sell balloon bouquets to students and staff. They've already filled orders for district events.

The business is a welcome addition to the transition program's goal of teaching life and job skills, according to 18-year-old Parker Siglin.

"I really want to learn how to do jobs," he said. "This program is great; it's like a college."

---