Student entrepreneurs host TREP$ marketplace

  • all TREP$ students pose for a photo

Kids at Florida Union Free School District aren’t waiting for the future to chase their dreams, they’re getting started now! Over 20 student entrepreneurs from the fourth, fifth and sixth grades sold their original products at the TREP$ marketplace March 21. 

After an official ribbon-cutting ceremony, the sales began, and students were prepared to speak about what made their product unique and how it could benefit the customer.

“So what I have here is pebble art,” shared fourth grader Everett Misir. “It’s a bunch of pebbles in picture frames with little sayings. I thought these would be good gifts for people to purchase for Mother’s Day.” Misir, who is a returning entrepreneur, shared that he enjoyed helping new entrepreneurs throughout the process. 

Fourth grader Ryleigh Bonita sold cutting boards and spoon rests. “Everything is made out of resin. My favorite part of the process was adding the decorations in between the layers,” she shared. 

Students took what they learned in TREP$ lessons and applied it to their business design.

“In workshops, we talked about manners with customer service and advertisements,” shared Stefan Yurchuck. He and Max Althiser created a business together, called STAX Hats, using a combination of their names.“Hats were one of the biggest hits at previous markets,” added Althiser, explaining that as new entrepreneurs, their reasoning for choosing the product was based on research.

Some returning entrepreneurs noted how they took what they learned from last year’s marketplace and applied it to their business this year.

Sixth grader Riley Maesano sold his original photographs in rustic frames. “From the start I knew from last year that my goat photos sold really well, so I knew I wanted to do more of those and add some of my landscape photos,” he shared. “It was a really fun process putting them together and seeing how it all finally came out.”

With over 10 years of successful marketplaces at Golden Hill, TREP$ has become a family tradition for many.

“I did TREP$ with my older son who is a sophomore now, and it is such a cool experience. The kids really look forward to it,” shared Sarah Misir. “I assist them with preparing the sayings for the pebble art, so it’s a good bonding experience for us, too.” 

Families, local residents and other students came out in full force to show support for the young entrepreneurs, and the event has become one of community building in the district.

“It’s great for all of the families to be together and meet other kids that go to school with your kids that you might not already know,” shared Joe Bonita. “I think it’s great that the school offers entrepreneurship to students starting from scratch to creating a business design, making a full product then actually selling it,” added Kristina Bonita. 

With help from advisers Linda Shute and Heather Beneat, as well as their families, students do just that. 

“First, we have a lesson to introduce everything, and then depending on what we’re teaching them, we do different challenges. For the advertising lesson, the kids designed a candy bar wrapper,” shared Beneat, a reading specialist at Golden Hill. “We also did a challenge where the students did a skit and created a commercial,” added Shute, who teaches kindergarten. 

The students create a business plan, including information on financials. “We talk about money and how much startup costs could be. We discuss if they have to borrow money from their parents, whether they are expected to pay it back, profits, and more,” Beneat shared. 

“I think that what’s important in regard to TREP$ is that it includes every aspect of creating a business and it gives our kids a taste of what that would be like if that’s a career they want to go towards,” shared Starla Ciarelli, Golden Hill’s principal. “It’s a great experience for them.”

“I hope that they take forward this excitement and that they want to continue to do creative things like this,” shared Shute. “And that they take initiative and know that they can do challenging things,” added Beneat. “They should be so proud of themselves.”