Second graders at the Blooming Prairie Elementary School recently found out first hand how a small town business community functions.
Thanks to the Blooming Prairie Area Chamber of Commerce and its Junior Entrepreneur program, second graders were given a hands-on opportunity to learn about city government and business and industry in the small community of Blooming Prairie.
The second graders sampled a home grown curriculum developed by Linda Klemmensen, chamber member and owner of Sportstitch.
Klemmensen and her daughter, Rachel, and Michelle Vigeland brought their curriculum to the elementary school for five consecutive days last week. Linda has taught her self-designed curriculum for more than 20 years. Rachel was teaching the Junior Entrepreneur class for a second consecutive year.
Sixty-one second graders from three classrooms participated in the Junior Entrepreneur program. Teachers helping with the program were Diane Pfieffer, Kim Lea and Denise Hadrath.
What is an entrepreneur anyway?
The dictionary says an entrepreneur is a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to conduct business.
The curriculum features five different lessons:
1) Learn about businesses on Main Street in Blooming Prairie by referring to a map of Main Street merchants.
2) Make paper cookies and learn about unit production and assembly line production.
3) Tour the Blooming Prairie City Center and learn about city government and city services.
4) Bring a new business to town. Three would-be businesses are surveyed by the second graders.
5) Students learn about the banking business on their way to becoming entrepreneurs.
Each class walked to the BP City Center at their own designated time on Oct. 23. The students were met at the center by Becky Noble, BP Area Chamber of Commerce executive director; Curt Esplan, mayor; Andrew Langholz, city administrator; Izzy Wacek, firefighter; Jake Peterson, BP Police Department and Jessica Kremer, ambulance.
The emergency personnel actually responded to a 911 call turned in by the students due to a fire at the cookie factory.
"We've got the whole city here," said Noble. She said the library is also part of the city. "Better readers make better leaders," she told the students.
Noble asked the students what a manufacturer is. She then answered her own question, saying they make fenders (Minimizer), metal parts (Metal Services), bar bells (Heavy Metal) and finishing for metal (Extreme Powder Coating).
For working at the cookie factory, each student was paid $25.
Mayor Esplan then went to each student and collected $10 in tax money that pays for utilities, for streets, for parks, for the swimming pool and for plowing city streets in the winter.
"That's not fair," a student remarked when giving up $10 of the $25 just earned.
"How much do you get paid for being mayor?" a student asked Mayor Esplan. "Not much," he replied. "Well, you just collected $210," a student retorted.
Corporal Peterson took the students on a tour of the police department. "Where do you keep the prisoners?" a student asked. "They go to Owatonna," Peterson responded.
When the students returned to their classroom, they took 45 minutes to go over their specified license.
On this particular day, students learned about banking and also made plans to bring in a new business to Blooming Prairie.
"Sportstitch is my job and the ambulance is my volunteer job," Linda Klemmensenn told her class.
Klemmensen asked the students to define a bank. "It's where you put money," a student responded. "A bank gave me a loan to start my business," Klemmensen said.
Students were given money (not real) to spend at Main Street businesses. "The kids learn what businesses are downtown by doing this exercise," Linda said.
In a neighboring classroom, Rachel was teaching the second graders about recruiting a new business to Blooming Prairie. Three examples were given to the students: Ralph's Roller Rink, Polly's Pet Store and Al & Amy's Arcade.
The students provided pros and cons about these three prospective businesses. The kids then voted for their favorite business. Al & Amy's Arcade out distanced Polly's Pet Store by only two votes.
This curriculum applies "to real life," said Rachel Klemmensen. "It's a hands-on experience," added teacher Pfieffer.