OHS Inc. Bake Sale Serves Up Food And Experience

OSWEGO, NY – OHS Inc. is open for business.

Once again, the Oswego High School Bake Sale Competition, which has been going on since 2003, pitted groups of economics students against each other in a friendly business rivalry.

The latest edition was held in concert with Thursday’s parents’ open house.

Members of the Stability Fitness bake sale team, Karly Babcock, Eric Witmer, MacKenzie Stone-Sweeting, Nikki Paulhardt, and Emily Mears prepare to help a customer Thursday.
Members of the Stability Fitness bake sale team, Karly Babcock, Eric Witmer, MacKenzie Stone-Sweeting, Nikki Paulhardt, and Emily Mears prepare to help a customer Thursday.

Students at the five tables located around the high school served up the basic bake sale goodies such as brownies, cookies and other treats. Also available were fruits and salads.

The customers got the goodies. The students, however, got the experience.

“Members of the business community have been recruited to act as ‘consultants’ for the teams to add real life perspective to the experience. The planning for the event takes six days and the consultants meet with their teams to help them form their business. The consultants, however, don’t take a leadership role,” explained OHS teacher Ben Richardson.

There was a new twist to this year’s competition.

The OHS Inc. students are in the class for the full year.

That means they will all get to try the competition twice, once in the fall and once in the spring, Richardson said.

The lessons they learn this fall can be applied towards the competition next spring; previous classes only got one try since they were semester classes, he explained.

Richardson approached him and asked if he’d volunteer as a business consultant for one of the teams of students, explained Chris Fitzgerald of Stability Fitness.

“He asked me if I’d like to help the kids build a business from the ground up, and I said yes,” he said. “We have worked the last seven days figuring out things like economics, purchasing, and marketing. This is really a great event. The kids have been great to work with.”

The other consultants include Mary Plummer of Aunt Mary’s Italian Café; Lisa Shaw of Oswego Tea Co, Dean Smith Jr. of Golden Gate Bridal; Steve Canale of the Press Box; and  Linda Tyrrell of Harbor Town Gifts.

The entire class was involved in the project, approximately 130 students.

“We all had three main choices and then it was decided by a lottery. Whoever drew first got the first pick of locations,” explained Karly Babcock, a member of the Stability Fitness team. “Things have been going very well, and we’ve just started.”

Their table was located near the theater entrance of OHS, within sight of one of their competitors.

The goal is for each of the groups to run a successful bake sale like a business during the high school’s open house, she explained.

OHS, Inc. is set up like a real corporation.

The board of directors has yet to be determined. However, Richardson is chairman of the board.

Below him are the CEO, Bobby Natoli and then the president, Vanessa Sheffield.

A vice president is in charge of each of the five periods of the class.

The vice presidents report to the president and she reports to the CEO, Richardson pointed out.

“If a vice president’s group isn’t performing well, he is going to get a bad performance rating from Vanessa,” Richardson said.

The students receive a grade from the paper they write afterwards. 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, Richardson said.

“Things have been going very well actually,” Sheffield said Thursday afternoon. “It’s been fun. We’ve learned the fundamentals and the rest of the project has pretty much been hands-on.”

The president has been involved in sports since her days at Oswego Middle School. That experience with teamwork has been an asset for her in her position in OHS, Inc., she said.

“Sports helped me learn a lot about teamwork and responsibility over the years,” she said. “And, as seniors, a lot of us do have jobs. That helps.”

This project is an example of what the educational community calls authentic assessment, which involves assessing students’ understanding of what they have learned by making them apply the knowledge in real life situations, Richardson said.

Proceeds from the bake sale will go to the Travel Club.