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Open for business: Shelburne Middle seventh-graders participate in Economics Fair

Shelburne Middle School 7th-grade students participated in an Economics Fair this afternoon. Photos by Rebecca J. Barnabi.

A lesson in economics and business resumed today at Shelburne Middle School after a four-year hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Seventh-graders participated in the Shelburne Economics Fair by creating business plans, applying for business licenses and food service licenses, and conducting business in the hallway like real entrepreneurs.

Instructional Coach Jennifer Turner said the students began working on their businesses in groups in January 2024. They also learned about lease agreements to reserve space and equipment for their vendor table at the fair.

“They’ve earned money all semester in class,” Turner said of students earning funding by performing certain class tasks.

Students also paid for advertising and created advertisements that were displayed throughout the hallway.

Today the students shopped from each other and sold their goods and services to teachers and staff.

“We even have an unemployment room if you didn’t do your work,” Turner said. Some students chose not to participate in the group activity with a booth and were given an alternate assignment to learn about running a business.

Turner said that before COVID-19 students and staff participated in the Economics Fair every year. The last class to participate as seniors is about to graduate from Staunton High School.

“So, it’s really exciting,” Turner said of bringing the event back for 2024.

She added that the students were excited and encouraged their teachers to shop from them.

Students could be fined for infractions during the fair. Principal Lisa Warren said she would fine anyone caught with their cell phone during the event. Failing to cooperate within a group could also result in a fine.

“We didn’t really know [how it would turn out]. The example we had was from a long time ago,” said 7th-grade Civics & Economics teacher Corrina Hunter.

However, the event was 100 percent a success for everyone involved.

Students began the lesson in January by asking themselves: How do you start and run a successful business?

In planning their business, Hunter said that students were encouraged to consider who might be their consumer.

Nobody knew what products or services would be most popular.

Cooks & Crafts allowed consumers to choose from baked goods and homemade craft items at the Shelburne Economics Fair.

“This has been a really good experience,” Hunter said.

After today’s event, students will reflect on how their business did and calculate their profit.

Parents also got involved, Turner said, by helping their children set up booths and some stayed to participate in the fair.

Successful businesses today provided food and baked goods, and several businesses sold out before the 90-minute event ended.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.