Cathedral students learn about the value of free enterprise

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 2004

NATCHEZ &045; Businesses looking for some creative ideas need go no further than Mel Reid’s fourth-grade class at Cathedral Elementary School in Natchez. That’s right, they are 10 years old and &045; well, borrowing a phrase from the young folks &045; way cool.

In a two-week study of the free enterprise system, students surpassed the teacher’s expectations, each student coming up with a type of business, giving it a name, making presentations, finding investors and creating advertising.

&uot;We had been talking about our country and the rights we have as Americans and about the free enterprise system,&uot; Reid said. &uot;We talked about how it is to own your own business and decided each one would start a business.&uot;

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Reid guided the 45 students in two social studies classes as they moved through the process, including supplies they would need. &uot;Each one created a pamphlet to help explain the business and posters to advertise to make people want to come to the business.&uot;

The study ended with the tricky crafting of a miniature building, each one with the name and most with the logo as part of the exterior dcor. Using large boxes, the students created windows and doors, added lights and stylish art work and gave each building a distinct character and personality.

They created video stores, flower shops, pet stores, lawn mower services, construction companies, movie theaters and restaurants. They opened sweet shops, hotels, game rooms and banks.

Student JaDarius Ealey opened J.J.’s Workout. His advertising included a Web site &045;

Kandice Bailey opened Hair Heaven. The advertising slogan was &uot;If you want to be a 10, better an 11, come see us at Hair Heaven.&uot;

Bailey said she learned that running a business is not easy. &uot;It’s harder than some people think, getting investors and making up a slogan.&uot;

Jordan Nettles opened Jordan’s House of Goodies, which sold cakes, cookies, brownies and other sweets. &uot;I learned you have to think a lot about it when you open a business,&uot; she said.

For Cody Bradford, the responsibility of owning a business became clear during the project. &uot;It’s hard work to run a service business. And if you have investors, you have to pay them back,&uot; he said.

Bradford’s business was The Grill Hut, specializing in ribs, steaks, onion rings and desserts. &uot;My brother likes to be a chef, and I want to be a chef, too,&uot; he said.

Another restaurant business as Norene’s Hamburger Hangout, where Norene Junkin put her cooking talents to work. &uot;I really like to cook. I make up my own recipes for appetizers at home,&uot; she said.

Madeline Beard chose a spa for her business and named it Madeline’s Ooh-La-La Spa. &uot;I picked a spa because it would be relaxing and help you be beautiful inside and out,&uot; she said. &uot;Business is hard. You have to get investors, supplies, find a place to build your building. And you have to know how to use your profits.&uot;

Abby Dillard learned a new word when she opened My Sweet Boutique, where she sold clothing, purses, belts, shoes &uot;and accessories,&uot; she said, spelling it perfectly when asked to do so.

Zachary West opened a sporting goods store. Part of his plan to get customers was to advertise the business &uot;not just for the equipment you can buy but as a great adventure, with a lot of practice equipment you could try out to see if you like the sport,&uot; he said.

Reid said the children amazed her with their enthusiasm and response to the project. &uot;They had to make presentations to the class and take questions about their businesses. They came out with the most amazing answers.&uot;

The study gave children an understanding of the complexities of owning a business, said Reid, who has taught school for 33 years, nine at Cathedral.

More than that, however, the project challenged students in new ways. &uot;It taught them to be creative and to realize the hard work you have to put into any project, that there is more to it than meets the eye,&uot; she said. &uot;And they had fun while they were learning.&uot;