by Jan Dixon
Special to The Leaven
PAOLA — Many schools showcase school productions for Christmas — but very few have actual products to show for it.
At Holy Trinity School in Paola, however, 17 seventh- and eighth-graders had their homemade products on display at their annual holiday market held after school on Dec. 8.
Hosted by the school, the one-hour event was the culminating project of a monthlong social studies unit designed to teach students about economics.
“We wanted the students to be exposed to every aspect of running a business,” said Luci Kennedy, teacher and youth minister. “Market Day gives the kids opportunities to make real-life, hands-on applications of what they have learned.”
Every student learned something they would use as an adult.
“I learned it’s hard running a business, because there is so much stuff leading up to selling your product,” said Hayden Warden.
“I learned there is a lot of planning and thinking ahead about resources and profit,” said Abi Shore.
All students in the school were invited to shop at the event.
“It was the third year we have had the market,” said Kennedy.
She attended some teacher courses from the Federal Reserve in Kansas City, Missouri, and had taken students in previous years on a field trip to economic events.
“But I wanted their learning to be more than just a one-day experience,” she said.
Long before market day, therefore, students devised business plans and decided which products to offer. They discussed supply and demand, advertising, pricing and marketability.
“Most every term of economics was introduced to the students. They were able to understand and use them,” said Kennedy.
Students helped each other create names and logos, set prices for their goods, make flyers to advertise them and design a catalog for pre-orders.
The seventh- and eighth-graders arrived at school the day of the market with bags of products, ready to do business. Students Elizabeth Khemraj and Ella Stapleton agreed that the hardest part was trying to get all of the products ready in time.
“And trying to make sure you had enough,” added Molly Nagle.
Tables were covered with sweets, pet treats, fudge, popcorn, string art, stress balls, salt scrubs and wood-burned ornaments.
As students tended tables and sold products, their learning continued.
“I learned that presentation is a large factor and people like to hear more about the product,” said Khemraj.
“I learned that there is more to running a business than meets the eye,” said Dylan George.
Although the market was only open for one hour, many businesses sold out. Other young entrepreneurs realized they had made too much and discounted items before closing.
After the market closed, Kennedy said she was impressed with the creativity and innovation the students had demonstrated.
“They worked hard for several weeks and took ownership of the project,” she said.
The rewards were many, according to the students.
“The best part was spending time with my mom making the candies,” volunteered Alex Eastman.
Jonas Sander, on the other hand, enjoyed knowing that a portion of the money earned would be given to a charity.
And Emery Everhart was all about the bottom line.
“I learned that the best way to run a business is to make things with little or no cost,” said Everhart.
More than $1,000 was raised by the project, and the Miami County Cancer Foundation was the charity chosen by the students because 99 percent of the money goes directly to families of patients.
A portion of the day’s profits was also earmarked for a field trip at the end of the school year.
Kennedy considered the annual holiday market successful. Besides learning about economics, students learned teamwork, communication skills and how to work for a cause.
“It was a lot of work,” said Kennedy, “but so worth it.”