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Kids Build Businesses to Sustain Twp. Economy

Old Farmers Road School third graders create stores and plans to bring to Long Valley.

If it were up to the Old Farmers Road School third graders, Washington Township’s business base and commerce would be bustling.

And it would have nothing to do with pizza.

A weeks-long project culminated in a diorama design at the elementary school recently, which required students to create a business they’d like to see in town, along with plans for holding hours and how the store could help support the community.

Projects constructed from homemade materials sat upon desktops in the classrooms, ranging from a Cabela’s to a dinosaur fossil museum and “Matthew’s Magic Shop.”

“All the kids took part in this,” said teacher Alison McElwaine. “No one came in empty-handed. They really did a great job.”

McElwaine’s students learned about business planning at the start of the assignment and offered to keep a tip jar on their business counters that would go directly toward the community, she said.

“They all wanted to be closed on the weekends so they could have their own personal time,” McElwaine said, smiling. “But I had to explain to them… it doesn’t really work that way.”

A larger portion of students created stores with sporting goods or athletic equipment and focus, saying the drive to get the goods they need was too far from Washington Township.

While owning a business is serious stuff, one of the students said there was plenty of room for fun and games.

Because Long Valley doesn’t have an arcade, Gerard Carratura was going to run his own, he said.

“It would have full size arcade games like Pac-Man and have motorcycles you can ride,” he said. Carratura made short work of his diorama, finishing the project in one or two days, he said.

For Lily McFadden, turning a business into reality was easy and hit close to home.

The third grader loves to ride horses and says she “knows everything about it.” So, her business was to expand on a farm in town where her mother’s horse is currently boarded, making riding available to the masses.

As for the construction of the project, McFadden would love that to be her only assignment.

“It took me about four days [to complete],” she said. “I would do it over and over and over again.”

Some of the students went as far as creating DVDs with commercials to advertise their business, which was a first, McElwaine said.

At the start of the project, the entire class decided there would be no new pizza places opened, since the township didn’t need one, McElwaine said.

At press time, none of the students had brought their concept plans before the planning board.

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