Paradise Knoll students put youthful twist on 'Shop Local'

West Milford. Students at Paradise Knoll School sold holiday wares as part of the TREP$ program on Nov. 22.

| 05 Dec 2019 | 12:45

While kids around the world were drafting their holiday wishlists, on Nov. 22, over 50 Paradise Knoll School students were turning holiday shopping upside down, putting a unique twist on the popular “Shop Local” mantra.

These kids weren’t the consumers – instead they were the producers, selling innovative products they designed, created, and marketed as part of the entrepreneurship education program, TREP$, offered at the school this fall.

TREP$, short for entrepreneurs, is a curriculum used in over 150 schools in New York and New Jersey.

It has helped create over 35,000 entrepreneurs between the ages of 9-14.

Through the project-based learning experience, students attend a series of engaging workshops that teaches the concepts required to launch a business.

A pop-up event called the TREP$ Marketplace is held at each school, affording the students the chance to apply their learning by selling real products to an authentic audience of shoppers.

TREP$ earned the New Jersey PTA’s Champion for Children Award and the Excellence in Entrepreneurship Education Award from the Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education.

The Paradise Knoll School is no stranger to the TREP$ program.

This fall marked the 15th TREP$ Marketplace at Paradise Knoll School, where the program was initially created by former PTA members Pamela deWaal and Hayley Romano.

The co-founders were on hand to celebrate the milestone event and to cut the “grand opening” ribbon.

“We owe so much to this community for piloting TREP$, and we are so proud to watch it continue to thrive here," Romano said.

“Each time I attend, I am reminded that when learning is project-based and student-driven it can be impactful, relevant, and fun at the same time,” deWaal said.

The weekly workshops leading up to the event were taught by staff members Melissa Keil, Joyce Troast, and Lorraine Poat.

Troast spoke to the program’s ability to reach beyond the business learning to teach valuable life skills.

“This program provides the students with life skills and knowledge no book can convey,” she said.

Keil agreed that the kids learn much more than entrepreneurship.

“TREP$ helps them strengthen their communication skills and build a good work ethic,” she said.

Working in partnerships or as sole proprietors, many of the biz kids capitalized on the time of year and sold seasonally-themed items. Penguin ornaments made from pine cones, birch log snowmen, and mason jar "Santas" were popular sellers.

Other entrepreneurs helped to ease the stress associated with the holidays by offering handmade heating packs, stress balls, and candles.

By the end of the evening, many of the students proudly held signs that read “Sold Out.”

The Paradise Knoll TREP$ team would like to thank Mayor Michele Dale, Board of Education members Kate Romeo and Jaycen Stillman, and Principal Jennifer Miller for attending.

They would also like to thank the Paradise Knoll PTA and Lakeland Bank for their continued support of the program.