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A profitable education

Londonderry students get down to business

Union Leader Correspondent

December 23. 2013 7:51PM

Fifth-grader Alexa Calligandes chats with customers during North School's Business Fair on Thursday. april guilmet 

Above: North School fifth-graders Andrew Johnson and Matt Griffin peddle their holiday goods, including several dozen handmade doorstops. Left: Fifth-grader Madison Bolton used tea light candles to make creative snowman Christmas ornaments to sell at North School’s annual Business Fair on Thursday. april guilmet

An annual event held at North Elementary School each December gives new meaning to the term "shop local."

On Thursday, all 107 of the school's fifth-graders had a hands-on lesson in economics during the daylong Business Fair.

Fifth-grader Madison Bolton used tea light candles to make these creative snowman Christmas ornaments to sell at Londonderry North Elementary School’s annual Business Fair Thursday. april guilmet

Classrooms became makeshift malls as the children decorated their respective booths with holiday lights, complete with handmade signs and brochures advertising products up for sale.

Parents, teachers and fellow students milled about the aisles, scooping up last-minute stocking stuffers.

Principal Mary Coltin said the fair has been a very popular tradition at the school for as long as she can remember.

"It's been something we've done for at least 20 years, probably for longer," Coltin said as she made her way past a display of student-made Christmas ornaments.

The fifth-graders began developing their "businesses" this past fall. With many opting to pair up with a partner, the students were asked to develop a product and business plan.

The goal is one of simple economics: to make a profit after spending on supplies and advertising.

With that in mind, some students discovered that using materials already hanging around the house is a good way to go.

Jacob Pinelle and Ryan Wells created some truly unique wallets using colorful duct tape.

The boys made almost 40 of the wallets, which sold for several dollars apiece. By early afternoon, all but four of the wallets had sold.

Working the crowd at a nearby booth, classmates Andrew Johnson and Matt Griffin were enjoying similar success.

The boys made 54 tiny gum ball dispensers, which sold out by noontime according to Johnson.

By early afternoon the duo of young tycoons were trying out their best sales pitches to unload the last 10 doorstops they'd made out of bricks and festive fabric swatches.

Across the room Alexa Calligandes said she had a perfect day of sales.

"I was pretty cleaned out by noon," she said, noting that the festive earrings and charm bracelets she made proved popular with students and teachers alike.

The season's generosity inspired a handful of the students, who opted to donate their sales earnings to charities.

A self-professed "huge animal lover," Sarah Girardin decided to donate the proceeds from her booth's sales to the Nashua Humane Society.

Crocheted "pet worms" were 50 cents, while mice ornaments made out of walnut shells sold for 75 cents.

Girardin said her fuzzy pom-pom puppies and kittens, which sold for $3 each and came with official "adoption papers" had sold out early.

"But you can order one if you'd like," she quickly added.

Madison Walden said she decided to use her business to battle breast cancer in honor of her friend Riley Anderson, who lost her grandmother to the disease.Sales of her $2 bungee-cord bracelets and key chains certainly added up — by days end the girls had raised hundreds of dollars."It just makes you feel good," Walden said.

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