5th-graders get a tasty lesson in entrepreneurship at Eberwhite

From AAPSNews Service

Things are really popping at Eberwhite Elementary School this spring, where finger-licking good popcorn is produced and sold as a small, entrepreneurial business venture with proceeds going to charity.

Fifth-graders make three different flavors of popcorn for sale at Eberwhite Elementary. The student-run Hip Hop Popcorn has been a tradition at the school for years.

Students in Rose Giacherio’s class coordinate the nonprofit Hip Hop Popcorn – an assembly line of fun that teaches students about a small business and offers snacks to the entire school.

For a price, of course.

Students “popped” and produced three types of popcorn – butter, salted and cinnamon sugar – for one week in April, taking orders at a sales stand in the center of the school and delivering their goods at the end of each day.

Giacherio said this year’s project raised a record $994; on Thursday alone, students had sold $548 worth of popcorn, she said. “We deliver our product to our customers at the end of the day. We also sell what we have left after school,” she said.

Proceeds go to the students’ charity of choice; this year money will go to Ann Arbor’s Alpha House shelter and the Huron River Watershed Council.

Fifth-graders also learn about marketing their product, doing radio and TV spots and hand out free tastes to everyone in the school before distributing order forms and beginning production.

They all take turns popping, mixing and packaging, learning the entire process, which is all done in the classroom. A student “assembly line” created the product and students also took part in order taking and product delivery. (Perhaps the most popular task was taste testing.)

Students used a $100 Ann Arbor Area Youth Foundation grant to purchase their initial warehouse supplies, with the rest of the needed items purchased and supplied by parents, Giacherio said.

“It was truly an Eberwhite project,” she added, noting that teachers allowed students come in to explain the ordering process and “patiently awaited our final delivery at the end of the day.” Lunch supervisors and office staff allowed the students to promote their product schoolwide.

“Hip Hop Popcorn” has been a tradition at Eberwhite. Giacherio said members of the Pioneer Trailblazers group told her recently that they were the ones who named the project. “So, it’s been going on for years,” she added.

She said often Slauson Middle School students return to Eberwhite each year to see how the younger entrepreneurs are doing (and whether they beat any previous sales records.)

And Hip Hop Popcorn is the gift that keeps on giving; it typically takes weeks for the smell of popcorn in the classroom to dissipate, Giacherio added.

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