Business classes give students real-world experience

Staff writer

Megan Thomas has only taught at Marion High School for two years, but she wasted no time getting students involved in business ventures to prepare them for professional environments.

Thomas, an alumna of MHS and Emporia State University, taught for five years at Northern Heights High School before returning to Marion. She also taught the entrepreneurship class that ventured to build the Daily Grind coffee shop in the school library. The shop is open to the public from 7:45 to 8:20 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Currently, Thomas teaches an applied business class new to the curriculum this year. She has two groups in Marion and one online in Hillsboro.

“The goal of that class is they run a business, so they’re running the coffee shop, which is pretty established,” she said.

Additionally, the class focuses on students developing their own business. This semester, students are developing their own brand of lip balm, as well as a plan to sell it.

“The kids actually sat down with one of their loan officers and got a business loan,” Thomas said. “They had to decide how much they were going to ask for, and then the banks told them what their interest rates can be and when they have to make their payments back.”

Thomas said she hopes students will be able to pay their loans back through selling the lip balm and have profits left over to divide amongst themselves.

One group had received all its supplies Thursday, aiming to begin creating the lip balm by today so students could have their product ready in time for Thanksgiving. The class spent the past week cleaning beeswax to ready it for the balm process.

As part of their business plans, students must brand and package their product in a way that will maximize profits. One group will have a peppermint-flavored balm for the holiday season.

“I think writing the business plan is huge, because if these kids ever do decide to start their own business, they know that’s one of the steps they need to have planned,” Thomas said. “Also, they’re learning how to manage their money, because this is money that they’re taking care of themselves.

The challenge for Thomas was not helping students make decisions, giving examples and deadlines for instruction instead.

“I haven’t been able to give them ideas because if I give one group an idea, then I have to tell all of my groups the same idea,” she said. “It’s just that real-world business that I can’t teach them that they’re getting out of a project like this.”

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