Alpha Academy fourth- and fifth-graders design, make and market bracelets
During spring semester, fourth- and fifth-graders at Alpha Academy charter school ran their own businesses – selling handmade bracelets to fellow students and staff.
The youngsters served as CEOs and other positions in companies they created as part of a curriculum called BizWorld.
“To outsell each other was the idea,” says adviser Barbara Smith.
Smith had the idea that money raised, which turned out to be $500, would be donated to The Hope Center, which serves the homeless.
“My passion really is the homeless,” she says.
Along the way, the 9, 10- and 11- year olds dealt with the real world demands faced by business owners all over the world.
Tawheed McCray, a fifth-grader, talked about making his chevron bracelet, which involves loops and knots and which he says, “takes a while” to make.
“I started with eight strands of thread,” says Tawheed, whose company was named Cfact. “I had to knot each one together so it stayed.”
A’Mya Walker, a fifth-grader, said she and her partner in Bestie’s Bracelets produced about 19 bracelets.
She said one of her best-sellers, Mermaid Mysterious, involved black wiring and tiny pearl-like beads. Making one could “on a good Saturday” take two hours.
“It depended on how I was feeling at the time,” she says.
Fourth-grader Satora Edghill, of Brandon’s Best Bracelets, had to remind her clients that quality takes time.
“We tried not to mess it up,” she says. “Tried not to rush it. People, they were pressing me about getting their bracelets.”
Camila Ruiz, a fourth-grader, said her company, Heart of Thread, made a DNA Bracelet shaped to look like the double-helix.
A’Mya says her highest-priced bracelet, in the $5 range, was a metal one she made for a particular customer.
“It was customized to say ‘Mom,’ ” she says.
Milani Haile, a fifth-grader, started surveying her schoolmates during lunch a few days before her company, BFS, even had bracelets ready. By the time she and her partner started selling bracelets, more than 20 people had expressed interest.
“Even our teacher bought five,” she said.
Amanda Berrios, a fourth-grader, said her company, Heart of Thread, came up with a jingle: “Roses are red, violets are blue, we’re selling bracelets made just for you. You can get one, you can get two, just have some fun and visit our crew.”
The students set up tables outside a May 5 talent show, and “made a killing,” according to Smith.
Members of Amanda’s team had samples they took to classmates and their families attending the show.
If someone wanted a sample, they could buy it right then, Amanda says.
Fourth-grader Kymora Crisp, of Heart of Thread, says the talent show was “good for me and my team. We did sell a lot of bracelets.”
On May 22, the students were able to present a check to Toni Stewart, director of The Hope Center.
“She ordered a bracelet,” Amanda says, which Heart of Thread made. “It was orange and blue, adjustable. It had four beads with the word ‘Hope’ in it.”
The students grasped that contributing to the community is not just the right thing to do for businesses but part of their business model.
A’Mya says, “It will make a good name for your company. You’ll be known for giving back. If you’re nice to people, you’ll get niceness back.”
Tawheed adds: “You need to look out for the community, if you want to have a strong community.”
Columnist Myron B. Pitts can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-486-3559.