Adams Middle School is molding students into entrepreneurs.
The school hosted its 2019 AMS Entrepreneurial Fair last week, during which students sold products and services from businesses they created.
Students spent weeks working in teams to create businesses for the fair.
AMS teacher Norm Marcum said the school has hosted the fair for five or six years. He said the idea for the program came from the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative and Morehead State University.
“It’s a way for us to teach economics and business and entrepreneurship to middle school students,” Marcum said. “It’s really a great program because they get to do it hands-on. They build a business from the ground up.”
He said the students start with brainstorming sessions to determine the businesses available and local needs, and they build their business from ideas generated in those sessions. The students sign partnership agreements, develop business plans, determine costs and needs to make the business successful and work together to make the business plan a reality. Marcum also asks them to think about how they can take their businesses “to the next level.”
They are required to pay $5 to “rent” their booth space at the fair and repay “loans” they got from their parents to launch their businesses.
At the fair, the students pitch their products and/or services to staff, fellow students and visitors, and they get to keep the money they earn from goods sold.
“They make the money. They keep the money,” Marcum said.
Marcum said the students learn teamwork, communication and listening skills, math skills, business skills, technology and community awareness.
“You just get to see them grow from where they have no business knowledge to where suddenly, it’s like they know everything, and it’s just fun,” Marcum said.
Some of the students sold goods, while others offered services at the fair. Students sold cupcakes, milkshakes, cotton candy, coffee, pet rocks and other items, while others, like the “Bushwhackers” offered landscaping services and the “Rock Buddies” sold pet rocks at the event.
AMS students Jacob Burke, Mason Owens and Joe Crace developed an advertising business called, “Hear Ye, Hear Ye,” which is geared to help struggling businesses by referring them to other companies that can meet their advertising needs.
“We’ve learned that not all businesses have advertisements and some businesses are really struggling,” Burke said.
The students said the program taught them about business-building and teamwork.
“It’s a really good learning experience,” Owens said. “I’ve learned that, through cooperation, you can get things done.”
Students Jesse Simpson, 13, Bryce Patton, 14, and Luke Scarberry, 13, created “Solar Wave,” a portable solar panel rental company that caters to campers. The solar panels can be rented by the hour or day, Patton said. Simpson said they could be use to power campers or appliances. She said this program teaches students how to become entrepreneurs.
“It helps us, like if we wanted to become an entrepreneur, it helps us to know what it would be like or what it would feel like, pretty much,” Simpson said.
One of the most popular booths at the fair was “Sugar Rush,” headed by students Madi Wheeler and Allison Garrett, who sold cotton candy, cupcakes and pink lemonade. Wheeler said she earned about $250 selling pork sandwiches at the fair last year.
Students Cade Nairn, Brian Maynard, Dillon Shannon and Brian Hall were expected to earn a lot of money at the fair with their business, which sold milkshakes and opportunities to give the business partners a “Pie in the Face.”
“We just wanted to bring fun to Adams Middle School and have everybody have an enjoyable experience,” Narin said.
AMS students Lainie Prater, Jeremy Ratliff and Avari Kendrick created a business to sell “Doggie Dorms,” dog houses with solar panels that could be used to heat pets in the winter and warm them in the summer.
“We thought it was animal-friendly and technology inclusive, so it would be a good idea for this project,” Kendrick said.
Prater said the business caters to people who love their pets.
“Your animals aren’t just your animals. They’re your best friend,” Prater said. “We wanted to have something to make your animals feel safe and at home, too.”
She said the program has taught the students about business development.
“It’s helped put into perspective how businesses actually work, how hard to work to get your business started and keep it going,” she said.
Eighth graders Hannah Hall and Gracie Adams learned the same lesson. They sold caramel apples, apple cider and hot chocolate at the fair.
“It takes a lot of hard work to make a business,” Hall said.
On Nov. 20, middle school students from throughout the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative will bring their businesses they developed to the Knott County Sportsplex for a regional competition. The competition will last from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The businesses will be judged by MSU students and winning students will be invited to compete at the state level.