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Capitalism in action at PineCrest

"One might think the Gift Shop at PineCrest Elementary School is nothing more than an opportunity for students to purchase low-priced Christmas gifts.But the Gift Shop is the final project of a semester-long entrepreneurial economics project.Sixth grade teacher Karen Jensen brought the project to PineCrest when she was hired last year. She also has implemented the program at other schools for which she has worked.Jensen, along with sixth grade teacher Elizabeth Roberts, special education assistant Chris Martone and teacher Rochelle Winters, who instructs a sixth grade/fifth grade combination class, are working on the project together.“I think (the Gift Shop) is so authentic,” Roberts said. “It is a real way to incorporate reading, writing and math.”The two-day Gift Shop gave students the chance to make and sell products, after carefully outlining their business plan. From the first step of brainstorming, students felt the real strains and successes of real life entrepreneurs.“I might run a small shop when I grow up,” sixth grader Brittany Simmons said. “But this was very frustrating.”When the project began, students filled out planning forms that required them to think about the marketing, record keeping, inventory, packaging, quantity and other important aspects of a business-oriented venture. Each student was given the freedom to chose his or her own product.“This was very fun and educational, making products for our school Gift Shop,” sixth grader Bobby TenEyck said. After the first day of the Gift Shop on Dec. 14, some students had already sold out of their products.“It was fun because you get to meet more people,” successful sixth-grade entrepreneur Sean Delaire said.Delaire made snow-globes with Pokémon characters inside. He said he could hardly get them onto the display table without students grabbing them up.Also sold at the Gift Shop were bird houses, designer pens, reindeer candy canes, metal charms, candles, pin cushions, dog biscuits and more.“It’s been really exciting to see (the students) make their products,” said Winters.Martone said the project was an excellent way to work subjects like math and writing into a real-life situation.“This was really true to life,” Martone said.But the Gift Shop isn’t the last of the project. Students will have to write final papers on their experiences as entrepreneurs.“Lots of really good thinking the kids had to do,” said PineCrest principal Bruce Hobert. “They learned and applied skills. You don’t always get (to do that) in regular curriculum.”Funds from the project went into the class fund and will be used for a field trip."

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