At Sioux Central school, two student-operated businesses have found their niche. SC Specialties handles a variety of catering affairs, while Rebel Threads is a student-operated embroidery business.
Both are under the guidance of Terry Chalstrom, family consumer sciences teacher. The businesses utilize the expertise of students in the marketing class who developed fax forms, order forms and keep records on a spreadsheet. Chalstrom hopes to conduct the first annual meeting this year.
"These students are focused," Chalstrom said. "They know what needs to be done and they take great pride in what they do." Students shared their story with attendees at the November Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB) convention in Des Moines.
Students spend the first month researching recipes and learning basic catering techniques. In this advanced food class, students are involved in every aspect of a catering business and prepare shopping lists, compile orders from customers, cook and clean up. The team meets daily during the first semester and for 47 minutes, each student works at his/her specific job and things really get cooking. It's not unusual for the class to crank out 11 dozen cookies in a day.
The business caters to students, school staff and most school activities, like Parents' Night. Order forms are placed in the teachers' lounge. A wide variety of cookies such as chocolate crackle (M&Ms), snicker doodles, chocolate chip and peanut butter, are sold by the dozen. Pies, such as apple, lemon meringue, white chocolate devil's food are also offered.
In September and October, students prepared sack lunches for athletes on the football, cross country and volleyball teams. Athletes and coaches choose types of meat, bread, condiment, fruit, juice and snacks. Sandwiches cost $2, while each of the others are priced at 50 cents.
November caught the students preparing casseroles (tater-tot, lasagna, cavatini), desserts (apple or cherry crisp) and breads (loaf, dinner rolls, breadsticks). Cost for the entire meal is $15, or individual items are also available for purchase.
The catering business shuts down at the holiday break and reopens second semester as Rebel Thread Designs.
Four years ago, six students interviewed local banks and were granted a loan for a computerized embroidery machine. A school to work grant was used to buy hoop, threads and other supplies. North Iowa Sewing in Spencer donated an older embroidery machine to the business.
Now, four years later, machines run eight periods every day attempting to keep up with orders. Students must have at least one year of textiles and sewing to participate. Orders come from school athletic teams, school sponsored groups, and community members. Each year, graduating seniors design sweatshirts which are then made by Rebel Threads. This fall, two girls embroidered 40 mock turtlenecks for the middle school football team and sweatshirts for the cheerleaders. Special orders are filled for $5 if the materials to be embroidered on are brought in by the customer.
- From the Arrowhead Area 5 AEA newsletter, Dec. 2001.