It's a Monday afternoon—a school day—and The Parks at Arlington mall in Texas is cluttered with teenagers. But these kids aren't pumping quarters into arcade games, and they aren't playing hooky; they are attending classes.

The select group of high school students has come to participate in a hands-on learning initiative that teaches kids the ins and outs of retail management by employing them to market and operate The School Zone, a wildly colorful store where parents, students, and other enthusiasts can purchase t-shirts, sweatshirts, pennants, and pins adorned with their favorite high school mascots.

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