An educational venture
Grade 10 students at Herzliah Beutel high school took part in an innovative hands-on program teaching them the realities of the business world
The Gazette

Fifteen-year-old Ariela Moyal says the hardest thing about being a chief executive is managing your employees.

"It's very stressful," she said in an interview this week in the bustling cafeteria of Herzliah Beutel high school in Ville St. Laurent.

Hip-hop music pulsated in the background as Moyal and the rest of her team at Meltdown Fondue flogged a selection of delectable desserts, including strawberry kebabs drizzled with melted chocolate.

It's all part of an innovative hands-on program for Grade 10 students that aims to teach them about the realities of the business world.

Last September, the students were divided into six teams and charged with creating a small business. The participants had to come up with a viable idea and develop a business and marketing plan. They also sold stock - at $2 a share to a maximum of 200 shares - to fellow students in a bid to learn about financial markets.

This week, the six firms were selling their wares during the school lunch hour from colourful booths they had set up and decorated with their company logos. Half of the sales proceeds will be donated to charity.

Herzliah economics teacher Frank Cwilich organized the project, which was started 10 years ago at Loyola high school. This is the first year the program has been offered at Herzliah, and the school is so pleased with the outcome that it plans to make it an annual event, he said.

"The learning is so much fun that they want to do it," Cwilich said. "They're so pumped up about it."

At the Steamwear T-Shirt booth, students were hustling to take orders. The company uses a computer and Web-based technology to design logos or pictures for customized shirts. The images are printed onto special colour printer labels, which are then ironed onto the T-shirts.

Not content to simply stand behind the booth, Steamwear chief executive Lawrence Albert, 15, was attempting to reel in more customers by wading into the crowd with a laptop computer to show students how the technology worked.

During a break, he told a visitor that the project "had a lot of challenges," but that "in the end, it was rewarding."

"So far, it looks like it is going well," he said, estimating the firm had sold at least 30 T-shirts in the first 45 minutes.

Looking on with pride was John Shamash, whose 16-year-old daughter, Kate, was busy taking Steamwear orders.

"The business experience is great," he said.

In the crowded cafeteria, students were lining up at all of the booths to place orders.

Also offered were fruit and milk shakes at Shaken Not Stirred, where employees blended fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries into refreshing concoctions.

Next door, Cookie Couriers held court, hawking decorated cookies and an optional service whereby a customer could have his or her cookie delivered along with an insult, joke or song.

The popular Sunova Brownies booth was pushing the Voluptuous Twin Platter, a double portion of brownies, ice cream, whipping cream, fudge and strawberries.

Meanwhile, at Pimp My Crepe, staff were rushing to fill a new batch of fresh crepes with fruit, chocolate and whipped cream after ringing up more than 180 orders in the first hour.

"We sold more than we had expected," said 16-year-old company chief executive Ilan Elkeslassy with a smile.



©The Gazette (Montreal) 2005