Westminster School students set up shop to learn business in Oklahoma City

Seventh-graders at the private Westminster School in Oklahoma City study and launch businesses to raise money for scholarships — and get graded for their efforts.
by Don Mecoy Published: May 9, 2012

The Mexican food joint ran out of bowls in the middle of Tuesday's noontime rush. Fortunately, the pasta place downstairs offered some of its paper bowls — for $5.

These shopkeepers may be seventh-graders, but they're learning hard truths about business. This year, for the 25th time, Westminster School students are creating and running businesses as part of their schoolwork.

Before they launched their two-week business experiments in the school's common area, the students prepared business plans, surveyed potential customers, researched raw materials' costs and wrote a loan application.

The students arrange delivery or purchase their products, and also promote their wares with posters and PowerPoint presentations.

Math teacher Gayla Howell, who has worked with the annual program 11 years, said the school loaned the 14 student businesses more than $10,000 this year. By the end of the fourth day, the enterprise had broken even, she said, and is on track to reach $10,000 in profit when the project ends its two-week run.

“Our goal is to teach the seventh-graders to be entrepreneurs,” Howell said. The program started in 1987 and has generated more than $125,000 for scholarships to the private school in northwest Oklahoma City.

Sales are strong

The spirit of entrepreneurship is strong in the Westminster common area, where the students' tables display candy, food, clothing and even iPod cases.

Customers bought 55 pieces of bacon Tuesday before classes began at 8:20 a.m. The doughnut enterprise has been selling 10 dozen a day.

“We don't usually have leftovers,” Howell said.

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by Don Mecoy
Business Editor
Business Editor Don Mecoy has covered business news for more than a decade after earlier working on The Oklahoman's city, state and metro news desks, including a stint as city editor. He has won state and regional journalism awards for business,...
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