CHS students learn business skills during drink project

More than $1,000 worth of beverages sold during "Thirsty Thursday" event

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Camas High School students Andrew Okerlund (left), Pamela Jaramillo and Owen Leffel prepare floats during the "Thirsty Thursday" event June 6 at the school. (Photos by Doug Flanagan/Post-Record)

The “Munchie Milkshake” group’s frozen treats were a popular purchase at Camas High School’s (CHS) “Thirsty Thursday” event, held June 6.

They were too popular, in fact.

The event marked the culmination of the CHS Marketing 1 class’ latest project. The students, divided into 13 teams of five or six, spent the last month developing their “businesses,” doing everything from product selection and price setting to poster-making and promotion.

The students sold their drinks in a friendly competition during the school’s two lunch breaks at the June 6 event as a fundraiser to benefit the CHS Backpack Program.

Members of the “Munchie Milkshake” team thought they would sell 34 of their Oreo cookie milkshakes over the course of the two lunch periods. Instead, the entire complement was gone before the first break was over.

Consider it a lesson learned.

“We underestimated the amount of ice cream to use in each milkshake,” said team member Carter Koranda, a sophomore. “We thought two gallons would be enough for both lunches. Over halfway through the first lunch, we ran out of the first gallon, and we said, ‘Uh oh, we’re in trouble.’ We got the second (gallon) and more people kept on coming, and they caught us by surprise. We did not expect all of the attention that we would get.”

A big focus of the project, according to teacher Suzie Downs, was profit margin. The students sold $1,040 worth of drinks, with first-place honors going to “Boomer Floats” and team members Owen Leffel, Andrew Okerlund, Pamela Jaramillo, Marco Russo, Nate Adams and Kailen Ludt. The group sold 90 $2 floats with a 50 percent profit margin.

“They all have all their costs, and I gave them the exact amount of cups they said they wanted to make, so they’ll figure out how much they sold and what it really cost them for their drinks,” she said. “This gives them the feeling of being an entrepreneur. They really had to plan and organize and have a schedule and (set) prices. I’m hoping they learn that there’s a lot more to it than just (having) an idea, because in a real business you have to analyze this stuff and adjust.”

The teams produced a large assortment of drinks, including lemonade, Italian sodas, root beer floats and slushies.

“It’s more fun with more variety,” Downs said. “I let them choose what type of drinks they wanted to do so they could think about what people would want to buy because their target audience is high school students.”

After the first lunch period was over, Koranda generated some conclusions by analyzing the factors behind his team’s outcome.

“Now that I think about it, we’re the only ones with milkshakes, so more people (were) going to come to our station,” he said. “I think when everyone saw we were offering (something) different from everybody else, that attracted a lot of consumers.

“Also, our milkshake (was) $3. Everybody else was selling their (drink) for $2. We thought that would play a big role, but it didn’t play as big a role as we thought it would. And we got lucky with a good location, I guess.”

On the other side of the foyer, the “Liquid Sun” group served a steady line of customers that bought into the team’s concept of mix-and-match lemonade.

“We have (a variety) of syrups and we let (the customers) choose whatever flavors they want,” said team member Maddy Wood, a junior. “People like peach mango, and watermelon coconut was kind of a big one. (Lemonade) is really easy to make, so it cuts down time. A lot of people have floats or milkshakes, and you have to blend those up, so we wanted to have something that was time efficient.”

Wood said the event was “fun because we’re actually doing it for money.”

“We’ve definitely learned how to make profits and how many supplies that we need to buy to break even (or) make a profit,” she said. “(We) also (learned about) promotion, because if we don’t promote the heck out of our stuff, no one’s going to come. (We) have much better interview and presentation skills so (we) can talk to people a lot easier. It really helps. You learn where you fit in the team dynamic.”

Downs said her class teaches students “skills they will use the rest of their lives,” even if they don’t pursue a career in marketing.

“Our program is an elective. It’s hard to get kids in our program because they (don’t know how) to fit it in,” she said. “Once they come in, they love it because it’s hands-on and it’s real life. I find hands-on is how (they) really learn, because in their heads they think they have it all figured out, and when they’re actually hands-on with it, they go, ‘Oh, I didn’t think about that.'”