Like a marketplace bustling with holiday shoppers, the Lost Mountain Middle School cafeterias transformed into student-run businesses for the school’s seventh grade entrepreneur fair.
Teachers, students and parents browsed the array of shops while the seventh graders pitched their wares of cupcakes, cookies, computers, cotton candy, Christmas décor and more. About 400 seventh graders spent nine weeks studying American businesses, outlining business plans to launch their own businesses and ultimately creating products to sell during the entrepreneur fair. From aromatherapy silly putty and pancakes to marbled-clay jewelry dishes and milkshakes, the students sold almost $5,000 in merchandise. The money raised is going to support organizations and clubs within the middle school. “Many of [the students] knew exactly what they wanted to do [for their businesses],” said Selina Raeder, a Lost Mountain seventh grade teacher. “Some had to do a little research. Some tried an idea. It didn’t work, and they came up with another idea.”Leading up to the fair, the students were graded on each part of their business project. At the business expo, teachers graded the students on their presentation skills. Afterwards, the students will evaluate their entrepreneur endeavors themselves including what they learned and would change if they continued their businesses.“I learned how to be an entrepreneur and the basic steps you need to take to become a great entrepreneur,” explained Lost Mountain seventh grader Mackenzie, who launched her own Christmas décor shop called Mackenzie’s Christmas Creations.The experience taught Mackenzie how to properly manage her money and how to price products. She also learned that she might need to add more variety to her product line and change the name of her business so she can sell products all year. Fellow seventh grader August created silicone Lego-like toys and balls but didn’t have enough time and resources to create all the product ideas bouncing around in his head.“I learned you really have to plan,” he said. Although Mackenzie and August learned ways to improve their businesses, they were not without customers during the entrepreneur fair.August sold about 10 Lego-like toys, 20 silicone animals and five bouncy balls while Mackenzie sold approximately 12 holiday plaques and 15 ornaments. One of August’s customers was seventh grade teacher Jaime Williams, who bought some of his silicone toys for her children.“It is so cool that we get to introduce our kids to real-life persuasive techniques where they are selling a product that they have made and they marketed,” Williams said. “They made fliers and hung them up all over school. They made coupons where they are trying to get people to come buy.”Williams said the students’ marketing creativity really sparkled with student promotions like giving teachers $1.00 off stress balls because it is a “stressful time of year.” As the student shops closed for the day, some students were not ready to hang up their enterprising hats. “Some of them already are expressing interest in going into business and doing things after this with their products,” Raeder added.Mackenzie has $100 in orders from family members and friends to make more of her holiday decorations, and she is considering taking her shop online. For Mackenzie, the entrepreneur fair helped her raise money by doing something she loves—make things. August, however, was thankful for the school assignment for a different reason. “My favorite part of this project was spending time in my basement with my dad making these products,” said August, as his father, Daniel Longhurst, stood close by listening Longhurst echoed his son’s sentiments and was impressed with all the students’ creativity. “This could not have happened without the parents,” Raeder confirmed. “They have been so supportive. They have been willing to let the kids stay late, come in early and have supported them at home.”
Trudy Delhey, Supervisor
Contributing Autho:, Nan Kiel, Assistant Director