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home : news : news Sunday, May 1, 2016

5/8/2013 Email this articlePrint this article 
Entrepreneurs in the making. Students in Central Middle School family and consumer sciences teacher Diane Petersen’s “Let’s Make Money” classes display the products they contrived to sell. Items include snacks from the Saber Tooth Café, Saber Soundz ear buds, Saber Socks and Saber Sportz t-shirts promoting a “no-see” volleyball tournament scheduled Thursday, May 16. Proudly presenting their products are (front, from left) Jacob VanLaere, CEO of the Saber Tooth Café; Mikayla Overkamp, CEO of Saber Soundz; Cayla Jackson, vice-president of Saber Soundz; Allison Rueter, advertising executive for Saber Socks; Kristina Huling, technical director for Saber Socks; (back) Nick Wilken, business manager for the Saber Tooth Café; Kyle Hance, employee for the Saber Tooth Café; Lucas Hughes, an employee for Saber Sportz; Ellie Besst, CEO of Saber Sportz; Austin Weiss, vice-president of Saber Socks; and Austin O’Neil, CEO of Saber Socks. Photo by Kate Howes
Students learn business basics in 'Let's Make Money' class

By Kate Howes
Staff writer

When Central Middle School students enter family and consumer science teacher Diane Petersen's "Let's Make Money" classes, they step out of the more traditional educational setting and step into the business world.

The basic premise of the class is for students to learn to create a company, come up with a viable product and sell it.

Since January, members of Petersen's four Let's Make Money classes - the most she's ever had since the class became available several years ago - have been working diligently to think of products that truly would be useful and well received by their fellow students.

Petersen says their ideas are definitely reflections of what they like and meet the needs of today's students.

"I get to learn a lot about the kids and what their interests are and I really enjoy that," she relates. "These kids have strengths and interests they're not even aware of until they take this class. I feel very strongly each and every student has a skill or an interest good enough to create his or her own business."

As the name of the class implies, the general objective is for students to "make money."

However, in their quest to make a respectable profit, students ascertain a number of skills that will serve them well later in life no matter what career they choose to pursue.

"They are learning employability skills, financial literacy and are using a lot of technology throughout this process," Petersen says.

At the beginning of the semester, students started investigating various successful businesses, including a few in DeWitt. They researched how and why the companies began and got a feel for how they operate.

Their next step was to figure out what their own interests are and how to turn one of them into a quality product.

Getting down to business

Ideas they came up with are the "Saber Tooth Café," a business that offers a variety of snacks to students who need a little something after the lunch hour, at the end of the school day or after school to tie them over until dinnertime.

Everything costs one dollar and menu items - which students make themselves - have included trail mix, orange juliuses and grab and go bags containing trail mix, fruit granola bars, cheese sticks and small bottles of water.

Future items will include bags of fruit, a "smoothie bar" and monster cookies.

"Saber Soundz" are ear buds students can use either to listen to music or listen to school-related information on web sites. The ear buds come in a case, are bright green in color and are available in different sizes.

"Saber Socks" come in crew and ankle styles, different colors and sizes youth through adult extra-large. They also say "Saber Nation" and have paw prints on them.

Finally, "Saber Sportz" employees are the creator of t-shirts promoting a "no-see" volleyball tournament later this month. As explained by Saber Sportz CEO Ellie Besst, no-see volleyball means using a tarp as opposed to a typical volleyball net so opposing players can't see each other and making the game much more challenging.

Each business has a CEO, vice-president and director of advertising. Some even had technical directors, such as Kristina Huling, who created an entire Facebookä page for Saber Socks.

Petersen says students created order forms, searched a number of Internet sites and sent e-mails to place orders for their products with various companies and to teachers to notify them of pre-ordering and other pertinent information.

When all is said and done, they also will create spreadsheets to document all the orders and determine how much of a profit they were able to make.

"They've used technology a great deal," Petersen relates. "They've learned a lot about how to do certain things on the computer and some of them have discovered how terrific they are at it."

As indicated by the names of the businesses, one of the key aspects of the products is that they encourage "Saber pride."

"We always try to promote the Sabers," Petersen says. "So many of the products are based around the Sabers and Saber logo."

Petersen also notes even though making money is the ultimate objective, making the products economical for students also is crucial.

"Students come into the school wearing name-brand socks that they've paid a lot of money for," says Saber Socks CEO Austin O'Neil. "We figured, everybody likes socks so why not make them just as stylish but cheaper?"

The entire experience has been an education for the students, who have learned how many decisions go into creating just one product.

While it was trying at times, seeing the end result made it well worth the effort.

"Seeing it all turn out and being able to see your product in person was awesome," says Saber Soundz CEO Mikayla Overkamp.

"We were free to choose to do what we wanted and how we wanted to do it," adds Saber Sportz employee Lucas Hughes.

Petersen says in the Let's Make Money classes, it's the kids who are in charge while she takes on more of a supervisory role. They devise and are responsible for completing their business plans in the time they're allotted.

"What they learn is the old saying really is true," Petersen relates. "Time is money."

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