It’s Not Your Ordinary High School Bake Sale

OSWEGO, NY – The public can indulge its sweet tooth and help students learn an economic lesson this week.

Students in Ben Richardson’s economics classes hope to take a bite out the baked goods market at Oswego High School.

The students are divided into teams that will go head to head throughout the day.

They have to consider the location of their business, the overhead, salaries and assorted other business questions, their teacher explained.

“We are warming up for the competitive bake sales again at OHS. This time it’s with a new course, OHS Inc.,” Richardson said. “I have turned my class into a corporation and the students are the employees. That makes the organization much more efficient than before. I have five full classes working on it. We still have business consultants, however.”

This year, Stability Fitness, Harbor Town Gifts, Oswego Tea – Golden Gate Bridal, The Press Box and Aunt Mary’s Café are all participating.

It’s the consultants’ jobs to motivate the student entrepreneurs in the right direction and to keep them focused, Richardson noted. The consultants don’t take a leadership role in the group.

The OHS, Inc., teams meet at various times during the school day.

The bake sales themselves will be from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 19, Richardson said.

The bake sale event is an ‘assessment.’ The students get to apply their knowledge in a real life situation, Richardson explained.

He came up with the bake sale idea about 10 years ago. He said he wanted to do a simulation that would incorporate all the different things he had been teaching about business in senior economics class.

In past sales, Richardson “sold” the students sales locations around the school during the parents’ open house; team members had to decide whether they wanted to pay more for the better locations or pick a different spot and save the money for things like ingredients or advertising.

The grade the student gets comes from the paper they write about the event after it is over. That way, a student that had a terrible bake sale could get an ‘A’ by writing a quality analysis paper about exactly why and how they did so poorly, Richardson explained.

Over the years, with the help of volunteer business coaches, the teams have had 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 had to implement are supply, demand, costs, revenues, profits, marketing, labor issues, government regulations, location, market analysis, and product differentiation.

The student teams have to figure out what they want to make for the sale, how much it will cost them and how they can advertise and market their product.

In 2006, the OHS Bake Sale Competition won the Leavey Award for Free Market Education from the Freedoms Foundation in Valley Forge.

The Freedoms Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching young people the principles upon which our nation was founded. It was established after World War II by prominent business leaders to honor patriotism and good citizenship.