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Alex Timmons, left, and Robyn MacMillan, students at Colonel Gray High School, help sell Eco-smoothies as part of a economics class project.
When the lunch bell rang Monday at noon at Colonel Gray High School, students quickly filled the hallway to check out a smooth new business venture.
Eco-smoothie is part of a P.E.I. Co-op Council Youth Co-operative project for Grade 12 economic students.
The "eco" comes from being a part of the economics curriculum, but also because the smoothies are ecologically friendly and affordable.
The Prince Edward Island Co-operative Council (PEICO) was pleased with the progress made in such a short period of time on the pilot program launched two-weeks ago at the high school in Charlottetown. As part of its mandate to celebrate the International Year of Co-operatives, the PEICO had been exploring various options in engaging youth and raising awareness of the co-operative sector and business principles among today’s young people.
“The idea was to attempt to create something that could potentially be an ongoing learning experience with practical elements based on a co-operative model,” said Todd MacEwen, the communications director of PEICO.
The Grade 12 economics class was presented with the guidelines of co-op formation and some in-class sessions about functions of a co-operative. The students then took the idea from there. They appointed a board of directors who were given tasks to create committees who worked on areas such as research and development, advertising, promotions and finances.
The economic students put together a few trial runs of the smoothies to see which flavours would be most popular.
The project was run entirely by the students, with a little bit of help from their economics teacher, Kevin MacLeod.
“To enhance the curriculum in economics 621A, we introduced this project-based learning experience for the 34 students involved to form a co-operative. We had to establish a bank account and we had some guest speakers come in to talk about advantages of the co-op, and as a business organization,” MacLeod said as students passed by drinking their chocolate and berry Eco-smoothies.
Grade 12 student John Rix was appointed president of the board of directors and helped draft the policies that he hopes will act as a legacy for the next group of students who will attend the school in September.
“What better way to learn about macro-economics then to open your own business? So I guess it took over the course, it was our biggest project,” said Rix.
“It teaches a lot of fundamentals to opening your own business and it’s actually not as easy as you think it is. We went into this thinking it would be really easy but there were a few bumps in the road, like waiting for a health inspector,” Rix said.
Among the policies developed by the ECO-Smoothies Co-op, striving to attain and maintain all aspects of being “green” was a major component of the business. The students purchased locally and from other co-operatives to satisfy their business needs whenever possible.
To achieve those goals, compostable cups and lids had been sourced from Samuel’s Coffee House in Summerside. Dairy products and fruit came from ADL and the Walker Drive retail Co-op.
MacLeod said every economics student earn a portion of the profit through a $10 membership.
“A portion will also go to the business because we hope to bring this back next year,” he said.
Rix said the students wanted to put their portions of the sales towards next year’s business or towards the safe grad program.
“A highlight of the project was definitely seeing how much money we were going to make on the first day. We didn’t think we would make that much, we made $103.”
MacEwen said the students accomplished their goals and it was very impressive to follow.
“The idea of being presented with a business model and applying those ideas in a practical fashion is not only a great reinforcement, but hopefully something a lot of the students can draw upon in the future,” he said.
Three flavours of Eco-smoothies are on sale for $2.50 cents each and will be available for the remainder of the school year.