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Midvale Journal

Hillcrest High entrepreneurship, marketing students apply learning to real-world

Nov 09, 2021 10:47AM ● By Julie Slama

Hillcrest High junior Kayden Wardle, junior Sammie Baldwin and senior Kimmy Novak display their nostalgic rubber ducks that they are selling as part of the entrepreneurship class. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

More and more students at Hillcrest High have rubber ducks. They’re pirates, animals, clowns and about every color imaginable.

It’s not that students will race these 2-inch rubber ducks in a derby. Instead, they’ve purchased them from one of three groups in the school’s entrepreneurship class.

“We’re selling it as a product of nostalgia, triggering their emotions when they see them,” junior Sammie Baldwin said. “We bought a lot of childhood toys and novelty items in bulk, then we are selling them, at a price lower than a fountain drink, but even to make a large profit. I love that we’re applying the ideas we’ve learned in class to an actual product and interacting to make it a simulated business.”

Baldwin’s instructor, Nick Pappas, teaches both entrepreneurship and marketing classes.

In the first few weeks of the entrepreneurship class, students learned types of business ownership, how to start a business, and selling a product where they can get a break-even return on the investment.

“Then, we make it applicable,” he said. 

Then through Junior Achievement, an entrepreneur has shared his experiences with students, and through the program, students have $200 available to them as a loan to roll out products to sell at the school.

“They’re figuring out how to order the product, market it, price it out and how to sell it,” Pappas said. “They’re already creating Instagram pages and websites to have them available.”

Pappas said that last year’s class was limited to simulations because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I don’t think they’re nearly as effective as having kids have hands-on experience, where they’ll actually be able to touch the product, sell the product and it’s not just computer-based. They’ll be working with real customers and they’re going to hit snags where they might have disagreements in their team and need to figure out how to resolve that. At the same time, they’re learning to have contingency plans. There will be days where they won’t have everybody there, so then, ‘what is your plan, who is stepping up?’” he said. 

Students were able to pitch their ideas to the class, then they voted on the best ideas. Afterward, students could pick which group they wanted to join “so they can feel some sort of ownership over their choice,” Pappas said. 

Another group in the class is taking preorders through social media of air fresheners that have been customized with the Husky school mascot and vanilla scent marked at $5 or a $6 limited edition pine-scented air freshener with Principal Greg Leavitt on one side and Assistant Principal Quentin Linde on the other side. They also plan to introduce a dark ice or floral scented air freshener.

“We’re playing on school spirit to market our product so it’s unique,” sophomore Daysha Niles said. “We’re already breaking even; we’ve sold one-third of our inventory.”

Once they have the product in hand, senior Michaela Madariaga said they plan to step up their marketing through fliers at school, daily school video announcements and selling at school gatherings as well as putting out a TikTok video about the air fresheners.

“It’s a product that about everyone uses and they’ll need to switch out air fresheners so it’s something that they could purchase more often than once,” she said.

A third group is selling jewelry that is popular with high school students.

“I’ve gone around school and noticed what people are wearing,” freshman Russell Long said. “We’re taking a broader approach and offering a variety of designs and pricing each one fairly.”

He said that they’ve calculated the price per item, then added in a couple dollars to cover shipping and to make enough of a profit, but “not to overprice it.”

Freshman Nathan Gardner said it is important that they pay off their debt before they can look ahead at possibly purchasing more product.

“I’d like to start my own business, that’s the goal, and this is getting my feet wet,” he said. “I have a lot of learning to go.”

Pappas, who also has his own side business, Wasatch Bubble Rentals, shares his first-hand experience with not only the entrepreneurship class, but also his marketing students.

In the marketing class, students are working in detail to design, make and market T-shirts, including one that “has a lot of Husky brand on it” a fundraiser for the marketing program. The students also will determine the price for the shirts.

“The main idea is just to get to learn about targeted marketing with social media with their peers,” he said. “There’s a lot more curriculum I get into, but they’ll be creating T-shirts and collecting market research. I’m hoping this hands-on experience will give them real-life application and learning.”