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Ripon Christian 4th graders run stores
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Isaiah Berghorst has created a classroom version of the free press, the Schullerville Daily News. He uses a pad and pencil, camera and a pocket recorder to interview those he meets on assignment for a front page story. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

The Schullerville Daily News is the talk of the classroom at Ripon Christian Elementary School with fourth grade student Isaiah Berghorst serving as its publisher with pad and pencil, camera and pocket recorder ready for the next interview.
The 10-year-old student is one of 45 students in two classrooms that have created cardboard facades of their street-front businesses offering everything from homemade pastries to candies and even games other students can play.
The cardboard store fronts are placed on desks around the classrooms and play money is distributed to students to make their purchases.  Other classes from third, second, and first grades as well as kindergarten are welcome during the after lunch time slots. There is even a beauty salon that offers manicures with fingernail polish to boot.  There is also a store front offering electrical power – PG&E.
The students have been learning how to make change and keep track of their transactions with the shoppers who buy from them.  The shop keepers have developed a keen sense on the profit and loss values in their shops and are learning something about their net amount collected at the end of the week.
Teacher Pat Mandering was taking her third graders through the two classrooms to shop earlier this week with money they had earned at 50 cents a day.  She said her students were given play shopping money after they followed all the class rules and got their work in on time over a two week period.
Ashley Schuller and Yvonne Van Elderen were the two teachers hosting their students’ community of shops, teaching them the value of money and being organized and appreciating the need for business values.  Schuller said she had attended a teachers’ conference and witnessed a similar classroom project that immediately drew her attention.
She said she had walked by the presentation and wasn’t going to go in to survey it but changed her mind. She was so impressed that she brought the concept back to Ripon for her fourth grade student and for those of her fellow teacher Yvonne Van Elderen. Parents and members of the community including former longtime Ripon Unified School District Superintendent Leo Zuber have browsed through the crowded shops.
Berghorst even went outside the school campus last week to meet firefighters and police officers when eating out with his parents.  The boy had been given a “challenge coin” from the First Responders celebration and was told the value of such a coin.  He apparently learned his lesson well that when eating or drinking a soda out in the community it has a definite value. 
He learned that in presenting his coin at an eatery – the first responder he is greeting better have a similar challenge coin or they would have to buy you Coke or maybe even the hamburger you ordered.  Berghorst came across a firefighter sitting near his table and walked over to challenge him with his coin, not to mention a police officer Mike Perry.  One just gave him $5 and the other produced three challenge coins to outnumber his one.
Officer Perry then gave him three more First Responders’ coins to give to his friends.  Berghorst demonstrated he has what it takes to be a newsman – he’s definitely not shy.

To contact Glenn Kahl, email