BV middle schoolers shine as entrepreneurs
By Haley Schichtl
Three teams from Berryville Middle School’s gifted and talented program were ranked in the top 25 of nearly 200 teams in Arkansas Capital Corporation’s Youth Entrepreneurship Showcase (Y.E.S.).
The students participated in a “Shark Tank” competition in Berryville, where the students pitched their business plans and judges picked the top 10 teams to be nominated for Y.E.S.
The three teams that were chosen at Berryville will go to Hot Springs Friday, Feb. 14, for the Arkansas Gifted and Talented Education (AGATE) conference to set up their storefronts, market and run for awards.
“There’s awards for most innovative products, best marketing piece — they’ll all develop some kind of marketing piece, whether that’s a business card or flyer or brochure or website — and they’ll also be judged for best marketing booth,” middle school Gifted and Talented teacher Delene McCoy said.
All three groups that were chosen focused on recycling.
Sixth-grader Aubrey Lee’s product, “Glowing Glass,” is a night light made with painted glass bottles with battery-powered LED lights inside.
“We drink a lot of Snapple peach tea in our family, so I used those recycled glass bottles and mason jars, and I’ll paint them because sometimes the light gives off too much light,” Lee said.
Sixth-graders Ella Miller, Ayana Sincero and Carley Ward came up with “Sunny T’s,” bags made of recycled old T-shirts. They sell them starting at $7, and customers can purchase add-ons like pockets and having them tie-dyed.
“We researched, and what really made us want to do this was, we found out that an average person throws out 80 pounds of clothing a year, and it ends up in landfills and releases harmful gases to the environment,” Miller said.
Seventh-graders Jaden Hood and Sadie Sharp came up with “Savin’ Shavins.”
“It is an eco-friendly fire starter. It’s made out of a jute bag, which are extremely flammable and biodegradable, and there’s pencil shavings inside the bag, and a match,” Sharp said. “We decided to use pencil shavings because both of our moms are teachers, and we had an endless supply of pencil shavings. … Our match is also dipped in wax so it’s moisture-resistant. If it’s rainy or something it won’t ruin the match.”
Sharp said they sell them for $3 per bag.
“The contest is open for fifth grade through eighth grade,” McCoy said. “We had about 25 small businesses that were created amongst the G.T. population in middle school. They all wrote business plans and then we submitted them to the state, and for all of them to have an opportunity to develop their business even more … local banks, Cornerstone Bank, Arvest Bank and First National Bank of North Arkansas, sponsor the Shark Tank.”
McCoy said the “Shark Tank” consists of the banks sending one person each to be a “shark,” or a judge, as the students present their business plans. The teams get three minutes each, the sharks rank them, and the top 10 teams are given funding to help their business grow.
“Up until that point, they’re either borrowing from their parents or getting investors or using their own money to create this business, so it was just a way to get them more investment money,” McCoy said.
She said they then had an expo for the students to showcase and sell their products to other students during lunch before Christmas break, which the school has now done for three years.
“They promote this program so that we get young people interested in starting new businesses, and how to go through the process of that,” McCoy said. “They had to project sales for a one-month period …then the cost factor, and the gross funds and net profit that they would realize in one month. So that’s some pretty detailed plans for this age group.”
McCoy said there is not a national competition for their age group, but there will be at the high school level.