MONTVILLE, NJ - On April 5, Hilldale Elementary held its annual TREP$ Marketplace for its fourth and fifth grades, within its gymnasium. This year, over 200 residents, friends and family arrived at the school and shopped around 30 different vendors.

The marketplace is part of a program by TREP$ ED, LLC, an organization from Morris County, NJ that provides schools, parent associations, and community organizations with TREP$™, a comprehensive project-based entrepreneurship curriculum designed for students in the fourth through eighth grades. Through workshops that have been going on for the last three-four weeks, Hilldale's fourth and fifth graders got to learn some basics in the business world, make their own homemade products, design print ads, develop business plans and selling skills, and finally sell their goods to the local populace at their school.

“It’s cool to have your own designs and have the feeling of being a grown-up,” said 10-year-old fourth grader Bella Husti. “And it’s good to know how to run a successful business.”

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Husti and her friend, 10-year-old Amber Kobilarcik, made their own business, known as Confetti Shellers, where they sold cascaróns. The gym floors were quite messy at the end of the evening.

Hilldale Elementary has held the TREP$ program for the past four years. Four weeks prior, students attended workshops to learn about business basics, to pick their products and to present themselves properly.

“The TREP$ Marketplace is amazing,” said 11-year-old fifth grader Daniel Kondryshyn, who sold home-grown plants with this friend, 10-year-old fifth grader Lucas Scardigno. “It’s taught us leadership and business-making.”

Some Hilldale students participated in TREP$ for a greater cause. For example, nine-year-old fourth grader Grayson Lawner sold bookmarks, keyrings, necklaces and pillows for his business Amazing Animals, with 20 percent of the profits going to the World Wildlife Fund.

“I just love animals and reptiles and I’ve done this for cub scouts before,” said Lawner, who also did extensive research of endangered species. “I’ve learned about poachers killing security guards on their way to enter wildlife preserves so they could get to the rhinos. So I feel great doing something actually good for the animals that are not taken seriously.”

The hundreds of parents and teachers couldn’t be more proud of the kids and seeing the success of their mini-businesses.

“The TREP$ Marketplace is amazing this year,” said Gary Dedoussis, a third-grade teacher at Hilldale, who is one of the event’s co-organizers. “It helps to build confidence for [the students] have to interact with people and know the products they sell. It also gives them self-worth, for they find something they are good at.”

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