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School Notes: Lyme Students Get Ahead in Business, By Trying It

  • Sawyer Hanlon, center, playfully shows off with a handful of cash while fellow seventh-graders Matthew Hunton, left, and Alina Masland react. Seventh-graders set up a temporary store to learn about private enterprise. Among the sale items: fun glasses. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    Sawyer Hanlon, center, playfully shows off with a handful of cash while fellow seventh-graders Matthew Hunton, left, and Alina Masland react. Seventh-graders set up a temporary store to learn about private enterprise. Among the sale items: fun glasses. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • David Wilson and Sam Maynes hunch over the cash box while working at the “Leaping Lions Roar Store” at the Lyme School. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    David Wilson and Sam Maynes hunch over the cash box while working at the “Leaping Lions Roar Store” at the Lyme School. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Seventh grader Sawyer Hanlon, left, tries to keep purchases straight while students, from left, Tim Gray, Skouly Kachikis, Izzy Kachikis, Meredith Olenec and Jane Goodrich shop from the "Leaping Lions" store in the cafeteria at the Lyme School. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    Seventh grader Sawyer Hanlon, left, tries to keep purchases straight while students, from left, Tim Gray, Skouly Kachikis, Izzy Kachikis, Meredith Olenec and Jane Goodrich shop from the "Leaping Lions" store in the cafeteria at the Lyme School. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Sawyer Hanlon, center, playfully shows off with a handful of cash while fellow seventh-graders Matthew Hunton, left, and Alina Masland react. Seventh-graders set up a temporary store to learn about private enterprise. Among the sale items: fun glasses. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)
  • David Wilson and Sam Maynes hunch over the cash box while working at the “Leaping Lions Roar Store” at the Lyme School. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)
  • Seventh grader Sawyer Hanlon, left, tries to keep purchases straight while students, from left, Tim Gray, Skouly Kachikis, Izzy Kachikis, Meredith Olenec and Jane Goodrich shop from the "Leaping Lions" store in the cafeteria at the Lyme School. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

The Leaping Lions Roar Store was that rare startup enterprise to see runaway success immediately after opening. It was launched not in Silicon Valley, but the Upper Valley, and in a public entity: the Lyme School.

The store, open from Feb. 26 to March 1, was the creation of Jane Officer’s seventh-graders, who learned the nuts and bolts of starting a business during an economics unit. For the past five years, instead of merely having students read about private enterprise in a textbook, Officer has had them start one of their own.

“I really believe that when they’re working and doing it, they’re living it, and it resonates more with them. It becomes relevant to them and their world,” Officer said last week.

Starting with a loan from Lyme School Principal Jeff Valence, the Leaping Lions Roar Store had a workforce made up entirely of seventh-graders. Purchasers stocked the store with student-friendly goods such as pencils, erasers and Goldfish crackers. Accountants monitored the books for signs of financial stress and success. The marketing department dutifully conducted surveys of Lyme students to see what products they’d be most likely to purchase.

The finance department had the task of approaching Valence for a $550 loan — a nervewracking moment, as he asked them to put up money from their class account as collateral. He also reminded them that if they defaulted, they’d have to fundraise until the loan was repaid. “Every year, they ask for a bigger loan from the principal, and every year, I sweat it a little bit more,” Officer admitted.

In the end, Valence granted the loan from a private fund for school initiatives and projects. To fill jobs at the store, students drafted resumes and attended a “job fair,” where classmates assigned one another to roles based on their past experiences. Every day, students were required to fill out time cards, on which they not only submitted the number of hours they’d worked, but reflected on their efforts and what they could do better.

“If a visitor had peered into our classroom, he surely would have thought that the classroom was in total chaos and the teacher had lost all semblance of control,” Officer said in an email. “In actuality, however, it was quite the contrary; the students were bustling around the classroom and very vocal, but every student had an agenda and was intent on their work.”

There was no soft opening for the Leaping Lions Roar Store. On Feb. 26, the store, named for the school mascot, opened its doors to an eager public, and was open about three hours each day during recesses, snack and lunch breaks, and before and after school each day. Using their lessons about the law of supply and demand, the students running the store negotiated prices with their classmate customers, and learned the importance of service with a smile.

By the second day of operation, the store was running in the black, and by the end of the week generated a profit of $352, which will be applied to the seventh grade’s trip to Washington, D.C. next year. Beyond the money they made, Officer said students had a crash course in how a business runs.

“They understand the true meaning of profit and loss and supply and demand,” Officer said. “They know all about free enterprise and the mechanics of small business.”

Opportunities

The Central Vermont Adult Basic Education locations in Bradford and Randolph will offer GED testing sessions for adults looking to complete their high school education. Testing sessions at the Randolph Learning Center will take place on March 21, with tests in social studies, science and reading at 3 p.m., writing at 5:30 p.m. and math at 6 p.m. The Bradford Learning Center will hold tests on April 2, with social studies, science and reading tests at 11 a.m., writing at 1:30 p.m. and math at 2 p.m. Prior registration is required. Call the Randolph Learning Center at 802-728-4492 or the Bradford Learning Center at 802-222-3282.

Deans’ Lists

University of Dallas: Skyler Patton, Lyme.

University of Vermont: Amanda B. Almquist, Newport; Erica C. Andrus, Norwich; Cooper A. Brochu, Newbury; Evelyn A. Bulkeley, Perkinsville; Tianna E. Butler, Bradford; Gioia A. Cabri, South Strafford; Merrill P. Cameron, West Hartford; Molly A. Cantore, White River Junction; Lily K. Carter, Chelsea; Cora M. Churchill, Windsor; Kara R. Ciambra, Thetford Center; Terese A. Cioffredi, Lebanon; Elena A. Collins, South Royalton; Amy A. Davis, Woodstock; Kelly R. Davis, Woodstock; Erica G. DeDell, Woodstock; Daniel M. Degan, Norwich; Regan C. Dewhirst, Hanover; Marshall B. Distel, Tunbridge; Daniel F. Elliott, Norwich; Mandy L. Erdei of Hanover; Kayla A. Fay, Bradford; Jaclyn M. Ferland, White River Junction; Beryl R. Frishtick, Norwich; Gia M. Giambrone, Bradford; Dylan A. Grald, Randolph Center; Stephanie N. Harding, Cornish; Margaret A. Hawkins, Woodstock; Joshua F. Hnizdor, Grantham; Anne M. Hutchinson, Randolph Center; Charles F. Kimbell, Woodstock; Alexandra R. Krawczyk, Woodstock; Lauren B. Lenz, Meriden; Dana E. Lichvar, Fairlee; William S. MacEwan, Lebanon; Alexis N. Merguerian, Hanover; Carla J. Mertz, Hanover; Stephanie C. Morancy, Wilder; Holly B. Mugford, Randolph; Dylan B. Ness, Norwich; Rebecca C. Norton, Thetford Center; Thomas H. O’Neill, Windsor; Shad A. Orechovesky, South Royalton; Averill C. Pazdro, Corinth; Mikayla S. Peront, Bethel; Samuel H. Putnam, Hartland; Caitlin A. Roberts, Fairlee; Megan A. Rosen, Ascutney; Alexander S. Runnels, Sharon; Benjamin E. Ryan, White River Junction; Eva S. Sachsse, Norwich; Samuel E. Scheu, Woodstock; Robert Serra, Newbury; Zooey A. Souligny, Windsor; Sara E. Stanton, Hanover; Benjamin S. Steverson, New London; Margaret E. Terrill, Sunapee; Corey C. Tillson, Windsor; Toben O. Traver, Taftsville; Abigail L. Waite, Hartland; Emma C. Waters, Norwich; Emily D. Whalen, Tunbridge; Rachel L. Wood, Bethel; Paul C. Wright, Barnard; Mindy Yeung, White River Junction; and Christopher A. Zepf, Windsor.

School Notes appears on Tuesdays. Email news and announcements to kbryan@vnews.com.