Trevor Wehnert sells moustaches at Ocean Cliff Elementary's entrepreneur fair; Christopher Lifvenborg (below) tallies cash; and Charlotte Bass (bottom) hopes to make a sale of her soaps to Arjan Sekhon

South Surrey students learn, earn, give

Entrepreneur fair at Ocean Cliff Elementary teaches business skills and more

The gym at Ocean Cliff Elementary was abuzz with activity Thursday, with elements driving the excitement ranging from festive to philanthropic.

As Christmas music rang out, the school’s Grade 5 students put business skills they’ve been working on for the past five weeks to the test, in an entrepreneur fair from which proceeds would also benefit more than a dozen charities.

“The most important thing about being in business is donating,” said Trevor Wehnert, during a break from sales of moustaches. “If you don’t donate, that isn’t good.”

The 10-year-old prepared 100 adhesive moustaches of various sizes, shapes and colours for the fair, pledging to give 10 per cent of the proceeds to the Surrey Food Bank – funds he said his dad has promised to match.

Trevor was among more than two dozen students challenged by teacher Kelly Statnyk to identify a product they could make at home, research the design and pricing for it, and pick a charity to receive at least 10 per cent of the profits.

Statnyk said an ongoing focus for her class has been about “being a good citizen and contributing.”

Christopher LifvenborgCharities chosen by her students to benefit from Thursday’s efforts included the SPCA, OWL Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society and the food bank.

In her fifth year of organizing the entrepreneur fair at Ocean Cliff, Statnyk said such projects – hands-on learning “in contextual settings” – is “what learning should be like.”

“This isn’t new, however, the new curriculum reflects this,” she said. “Some teachers have always taught in this manner, but (before now) you would always have to justify it.”

For Christopher Lifvenborg, 10, the fair was an opportunity to raise funds in honour of a neighbour who died of cancer. Christopher pledged half of the funds he made selling paper Christmas trees that were crafted using pages from old books to the cause.

“Millions of people worldwide die from cancer. I just thought it would be good to help stop it,” he said.

Within two hours, he had nearly $60 to give to his charity.

“It’s not that much, but every little bit helps,” Christopher said.

Christopher said the experience at and leading up to the fair taught him “how to run a successful business.”

The key to success, he said, is “thinking about what the people want and not just what you like.

“Running it as if you were the customer.”

Charlotte Bass

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