Providing a fun, sweet start to Harker’s Summer Institute (SI) program, a group of business-savvy students attending an SI finance class recently organized and ran a lemonade stand on the upper school campus.
The students raised $228, which was divided among three local organizations (Abode Services, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation and the Asian Pacific Islander American Scholarship Foundation) as part of a lesson on charitable giving. The stand was one of two culminating projects for a course called “Finance & Investing for Teens” (F.I.T., for short). For the other culminating project, students successfully designed their own mutual fund.
The lemonade sale, held in early July during SI’s morning break and lunch hour, attracted customers including SI students and faculty, as well as other Harker staff working on the Saratoga campus. Harker’s SI, which began in mid-June and runs until mid-August, gives students in grades 6-12 the chance to earn credits, learn new skills and follow their passions.
The program is off to great start, with a total of 1,088 middle and upper school students enrolled in the institute (a 242 increase from last summer), according to SI middle school director Keith Hirota and Evan Barth, SI principal for the upper school students.
Available to both Harker students and others, SI offers two tracks –one designed for middle schoolers and another for high school students. Participants typically combine a morning academic program with afternoon activities, allowing them to earn credits and learn new skills, yet still enjoy summertime fun.
The academic portion of the day offers rigorous for-credit courses such as algebra, economics and programming, as well as non-credit opportunities for enrichment and growth including creative writing, Web design, debate and robotics. A driver’s education course is available for students ages 15 and up.
For middle schoolers (grades 6-8), SI’s afternoon activity program includes many specialty classes and recreational activities; students in grade 9 are also invited to sign up for the afternoon activities. Specialty classes include backyard games, volleyball boot camp and cooking. Other classes include art, jewelry-making, magic, improv, dance, tech, junior lifeguard, chess and circus arts. There are also off-campus field trips every couple of weeks to places such as Shoreline Aquatics Center and Capitola.
The lemonade stand is an example of SI’s continued commitment to combine learning with hands-on activities. To run the stand, students in the institute’s F.I.T. class were divided into three teams and tasked to come up with a custom flavor, build a business plan, design a marketing strategy and staff the business.
Start-up money was fronted by their instructor, Jonathan Brusco. “We discussed charitable giving and how to evaluate charities based on a number of factors, including their mission statement, financial efficiency, program effectiveness and transparency. Each student evaluated a specific charity and the group voted for the final selection,” he said.
F.I.T. participant and stand worker Emily Zhou, a rising grade 7 student at the Challenger School, said that this was her first time attending SI. Previously, she had attended Harker’s Camp+ program, held at the lower school.
Zhou explained that to offset such costs as cups and ingredients, drinks were sold for $1 for regular flavor and $1.50 for specialty flavors like mango or strawberry. “But we passed out coupons for 25 cents off to attract customers,” she said, noting that refills also went for 25 cents off.
Zhou’s F.I.T. classmate, rising grade 9 Harker student Eric Tran, said he was surprised at how much money the lemonade stand netted, noting that “We made $85 in just the first half hour of its opening.” In addition to passing out coupons to help attract customers, Tran said that a lot of marketing was done “word of mouth” and by “putting up signs around campus.”
However, customer Grace Cao, a rising grade 11 Harker student, said that she simply happened upon the stand on her way to an SI class. Of the lemonade she ordered, she said, “It tasted great!”