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posted: Thu, May 26th, 2016
Noah Quinn stands behind a rack of his custom dog tags

Learning to be an entrepreneur

About 75 fifth-graders recently learned the rigors and successes of entrepreneurship by creating and selling their own unique hand-made crafts, toys, and foods. The students participated in TREP$, a two-month-long program that allowed the students to experience the complete product development process, from concept to completion. 

The program’s finale was an evening marketplace held in the CMS gym where each young entrepreneur had his or her own table that displayed the products. Hundreds of parents, community members, friends, and faculty members packed the event and bought the items. There were decorative photo frames, dog tags, sculpted charms, candy and baked goods, emoji pillows, and dog treats to name just a few products.

At the marketplace, students gained the experience of interacting with REAL customers and learned the value of hard work by earning REAL money. And as the sales started to add up, students beamed with the satisfaction and sense of achievement that can only come from seeing an idea become a successful reality. 

“I was a little nervous but TREP$ literally pays off,” said student Olivia Scott. “In the end, you feel like it was all worth it.”

TREP$, which stands for entrepreneurs, teaches students very concrete business fundamentals through a series of hands-on challenges. The students met weekly to learn a different business skill. For example, one week students were writing business plans and identifying their target customers, another week they were learning about marketing and effective advertising, and another it was salesmanship and customer service. 

“If you want to have a business when you’re older, then you’ll already know what to do,” said student Esther Vormawor.

The entrepreneurs were encouraged to make use of skills or talents they already had when coming up with product ideas. In the days preceding the sale, the TREP$ participants visited classrooms in the building to show off their merchandise as well as answer questions about the TREP$ experience. This was an opportunity for the students to practice their sales pitches and drum up excitement for their products.

Jen Curry, CMS’ instructional supervisor, coordinated the program which was taught by the fifth-grade teachers.

This is the second year that CMS has participated in TREP$. Pamela de Waal, TREP$ co-creator, attended the sale to personally congratulate the students and staff members involved.

Ava Lofgren talks with a customer

Principal Kevin Moore, instructional supervisor Jennifer Curry, and superintendent Larrie Reynolds at the opening of the TREP$ marketplace 

The crowd at the TREP$ marketplace in the CMS gym

The TREP$ marketplace is a blur of excitement in this 8-second-long exposure
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Chester M. Stephens Elementary School
99 Sunset Drive Budd Lake, NJ 07828
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