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Great Valley Academy stages Market Day

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Classmates and business partners Carly and Calyann created duct tape pencils to sell on Market Day.


POSTED February 26, 2014 1:04 a.m.

It’s market day. The venue is a spacious grassy field that’s about the size of a baseball field. Around the perimeter of the field are tables laden with an array of handmade and one-of-a-kind creations that range from practical and simply decorative to whimsical and plain utilitarian.

Duct tape has a field day. The popular DIY staple product at Home Depot, Lowe’s, plus hardware and school-supplies stores is evident everywhere. There are duct tape bracelets, duct tape pencils and pencil holders, for starters. The pencils – four of them – and the pencil holder are $5 each. The bracelets run about a buck or two.

One table is offering a ball made out of wine bottle corks. The dozen or so whimsical item at $5 a pop was quickly sold out.

Colorful creepy crawlers that look like giant insects with sequins lending them a shiny look catch a lot of attention from buyers. The bodies of the shining critters are actually carefully selected rocks. With their heft, they can find practical use as paper weights.

Like the cork ball, the nostalgic-looking tie-dye shirts quickly sold out, too. So did the roses made out of pine cones, the painted petals shining with sparklers. Small wonder. Each long-stemmed “rose” was selling for just a buck apiece.

Welcome to the monthly open-market event at Great Valley Academy, the public charter school located at Button Avenue on the grounds of Place of Refuge church. It may look like the real thing – a regular open market where buyers and sellers meet. But the money that is exchanged is not real currency but paper money printed by the school. The products, however, are real. They are the creations of the students, from the conception of the idea to the actual creation of the concrete products.

Market Day is one of the things that make Great Valley Academy unique. It is just one of several things that the school offers to its kindergarten to sixth-grade students outside of the core academic offerings. These are educational activities and projects that can’t be found in any of the regular public schools in Manteca Unified.

Market Day is the culmination of lessons that the participating students learn in the classroom and at home. The lessons range from business planning to product conception to marketing strategies and product placements. Teachers as well as parents are involved throughout the whole process.

Fifth and sixth graders learn about business through Market Day where they actually put in sweat equity, with the help of family members, in setting up shop.

Students in third and fourth grade learn about business in other ways. They are given opportunities to “earn salaries” by doing various “jobs.” They also learn how to “pay bills” and develop their own business.

In the process of going through these business opportunities, the students learn “responsibility, creativity and the satisfaction of building a business.”

The student who sold pine cone roses found a way to transform what normally would have been garbage coming from the tree in her family’s back yard into something decorative and lucrative. In the process, the student also learned lessons in recycling.

At Great Valley Academy in Modesto, where the charter school was born, students made good use of the olives from several olive trees on campus by turning it into a business that was made part of the curriculum. The students learned how to process the olives and actually turned the fruits of their labors, literally, into a fund-raiser for the school.

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