OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego High School Bake Sale Competition took place late last week; just in time for a horde of people to descend on the high school.
The students couldn’t have picked a more opportune time to hold the event.
OHS was packed with people, from parents participating in the open house to those enjoying the Buc Softball Team’s benefit dinner. Several other activities were under way as well.
As the students prepared for the event, members of the local business community joined them and acted as “consultants” for the teams, adding real life perspective to the experience.
“This is a great example of project based, constructivist, learning being emphasized by the new NY State Standards,” explained Ben Richardson, the students’ teacher – and chairman of OHS Inc. “It is also a classic example of business and schools working together to make education happen for our youth.”
OHS Inc. is the corporation run by students to facilitate the event.
“This project is called constructivist learning. It involves using authentic projects that are relevant and realistic to the world our children are living in to teach 21st century skills to our youth,” the teacher explained.
Adriana Harrington and Kaylie Allen were part of the Candyland team.
“It’s going great,” Adriana said. “We have a great business here and a great advisor.”
“We have a push-around cart that is doing terrific,” Kaylie added.
“Peanut butter brownies are our biggest seller,” Adriana said. “They’re completely sold out! Everybody wanted some.”
There was more activity going on at the bake sale event then there was at the recent Black Friday sales across the country, exclaimed another student.
Victoria Soper of the Home For The Holidays themed team said their sales were also doing very well.
“We have a good location and have had plenty of customers all night long,” she said.
As an added bonus, her teammate, Rachel Nye, would spray patrons with canned snow to add to the holiday atmosphere.
“I can’t believe how many people are here. We have been busy right from the start,” Rachel added. “There really hasn’t been any one thing that we’ve sold more of. Everything is going fast!”
“More people have shown up than expected,” agreed their teacher. “They took advantage of the fact that there are a lot of other events going on in the school right now. The softball dinner, different practices and everything else.”
They also opened the school store to give visitors more shopping options, he added.
This year’s group wasn’t always the most original in their ideas, he pointed out, but quickly added, “But they are way more organized. The last group had a lot of really wild ideas, but were less organized. This year’s group is way more focused; their execution is a lot faster.”
This year, the students only had the one evening to work; so the time scale was very compressed, he said.
“I’m very pleased with how these kids are doing tonight,” he said as the time wound down at the event. “Now the hard part – getting them to clean up.”
The goal of the project is for each of the groups to run their bake sale like a business during the high school’s open house.
With the help of volunteer business coaches, these teams have to formulate a marketing plan, create a budget and make decisions regarding how these bake sales will make the most profit.
Some of the economic concepts they have to implement are supply, demand, costs, revenues, profits, marketing, labor issues, government regulations, location, market analysis and product differentiation.
This year, Avendal Bath & Body, Stability Fitness, Taste the World, and Sithe Global were the businesses volunteering their time as consultants for the bake sale teams.
“They worked with the students over a period of seven days to prepare for the event,” Richardson said. “Because of this extra know-how, the consultants not only bring business experience but knowledge of the specific “bake sale” market. It promises to be a very competitive year.”
The students receive a grade from the paper they write after the bake sale. The event provides content for the paper.
Even a student who has a terrible bake sale can still get an “A” since the grade is based on the quality of his or her analysis of what happened, according to Richardson.
“The student wins no matter how their micro-business does,” he said, adding that the proceeds from the bake sale go to OHS Inc. school store and the Travel Club.
Josh Avery, a former student of Richardson’s was in town and stopped by to see how the current students were doing at the bake sale competition.
He said he is putting what he learned in Richardson’s class to good use as he looks to create his own business.
The parts about labor being the biggest costs and what a burden taxes can be, really stick out in his mind now, he said.
The business people participating were: Kim Wescott of Avendel Bath & Body; Chrissy Mason of Stability Fitness; Anne Backer of Taste the World; and Phil Mooney of Sithe Global.