Students at Banded Peak School in Bragg Creek get a little bit more than holiday cheer out of their annual winter concert and market in December, gaining skills to run their own business.
While younger students host a concert outside of the school, students in grades five to eight sell products at their market.
In order to participate, students must be accepted through an application process, including a prototype of their product, a logo, a cost estimate, a profit margin, and a marketing factor.
A panel of teachers reviews each application and decides if the product meets quality standards.
“We really encourage them to be creative with their ideas for their businesses,” said Jill Winters, a grade seven and eight teacher at Banded Peak.
A lot of students are set on making cupcakes at first, she added, but with only 40 business applications being accepted into the market, students are forced to think outside of the box.
Students then consider what people need, demographics, and the longevity of a product, in order to create something that’s unique and profitable.
“There's so many things that they learn within this market,” Winters said.
After participating in one winter market, two of Winters' students went on to create their own businesses; one is running a car washing business in the summer while another created a 3D printing business.
“[It’s about] having those conversations with kids about how to be an innovator and how to be an entrepreneur and think of things that society needs,” she said.
Several students also expanded their businesses to the Bragg Creek Farmers Market in the summer, and one student even brought her product to a market in Invermere.
“[This whole process gives students] confidence to think that if they want to make money, they don't just have to think about applying for a job,” Winters said. “They can create their own opportunities as well.”
Kelsey Wicktor Neumeister, a grade three and four teacher at Banded Peak, said younger students get excited about their own participation and are already planning before they reach grade five.
“They ask about it in terms of, ‘Do you think this would be a good thing to make?’ and they'll bring in all of these things even when they're much [younger] than [grades] five and six,” she said.
In terms of financial literacy, Wicktor Neumeister said this gives students a connection to the real world where they can apply their own ideas and experience the business process from beginning to end.
Another positive thing is the fact the market is cash-only, she added.
“They come to school or that evening with cash and they have to do all of this mental math quickly and on the spot,” she said.
The winter concert and market is the third iteration of the event, with one spring market in the books as well.
Winters said, “I wish we could package [this program] and send it to other schools, but it's quite unique and lovely to this school because of the really close knit community and the beautiful environment that we have here. It makes it just really such a lovely evening.”