Paradise Knoll students hone business skills

Young entrepreneurs take workshops, sell handmade items

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  • PHOTOS by Patricia Keller Customers look over some of the wares created by young entrepreneurs at Paradise Knoll during the school's annual TREP$ Marketplace.

  • Hand-decorated coffee mugs were among some of the clever and cute items for sale.

  • Parent-coordinator Lily Murphy, along with some eager helpers, prepares to cut the ribbon at the TREP$ Marketplace.

  • Crowds of holiday shoppers line up to buy from participants in an award-winning business learning program.

By Patricia Keller

Paradise Knoll Elementary School recently hosted its annual TREP$ Marketplace, and once again it was a great success, organizers said.

Fifth- and sixth-graders in the TREP$ Program, an after-school club that teaches students how to become young entrepreneurs, sold items that included toys, fashion accessories, and holiday-themed decorations -- at the Nov. 17 event.

The students attended a series of workshops on business basics under the program offered through the PTA and administered by teachers Martha Cook and Joyce Troast. Parent-volunteer Lily Murphy organized this year's marketplace. TREP$ was developed by West Milford residents and former Paradise Knoll parents Hayley Romano and Pamela deWaal. TREP$ began when their young sons, who wanted to earn money to buy toys, became business partners and created items to sell at a local vendors market.

Romano and deWaal, both teachers, noticed that their sons’ fledgling business endeavors helped them learn how to make decisions, work hard, and see something through from start to finish.

In 2006, with the support of the Paradise Knoll PTA, the two launched TREP$ as an after-school club. It was so successful that it is now offered in all the district's elementary schools and its middle school and has spread beyond West Milford to more than 80 other schools.

Paradise Knoll students, proud that their school was the birthplace of TREP$, know the expectation for them to rise to the occasion is always high.

This year's marketplace did not disappoint. Students started their own businesses, coming up with ideas and concepts, then dove into planning, marketing, and, finally, selling their wares. Some learned partnership skills, and others, to be independent tycoons. But perhaps the most important lesson learned by these business dreamers, say TREP$ organizers, was to use each and every experience to grow their skills.

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