MONTVILLE, NJ - Seventy-five Montville Township Hilldale students from fourth and fifth grades presented the TREP$ (short for enTREPreneur) Marketplace in a flea market like atmosphere at the school on Friday night, April 28. Hundreds of people came to support Hilldale and their students.

The place was filled with excitement as the students showed off over 60 new businesses they created, including the selling of birdfeeders, soaps, candles, jewelry, coasters, to name only a few.

Kristen Piper, president of the Hilldale Parent Teacher Council (PTC) was there greeting visitors and supporting the event. She said that students have been working hard on creating their new, innovative businesses in a five week after school program.

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“Many of the students have agreed to donate their proceeds to charity,” Piper said.

President of the Montville Township Board of Education Matthew Kayne also was present to encourage students on their new businesses. He said the program is an excellent learning experience for the students.           

A fourth grade William Mason student Heba Imran, who previously attended Hilldale, came with her mother Urooj Rafay to support her former classmates by buying their products. She bought a bracelet from Nicole Swords’ Resin Obsession and a photo frame from Srikrithi Kancheria’s Pop Pic. Rafay said, “This is the first time I attended the TREP$ Marketplace. I am so impressed with the program.”

The students who signed up for TREP$ attended a series of workshops after school where they learned about product conception and creation, development, marketing, sales, finances, and more. The initiative is designed as an inspiration for students to think creatively and to put their ideas into action by creating their own business. They then show case their businesses and sell a variety of products at the Marketplace.

Entrepreneurship education through TREP$ is a self-esteem builder that allows the students to learn the value of creativity, motivation, and hard work.

Hilldale teachers Gary Dedoussis and Sandy Weber were in charge of this five week TREP$ program. Dedoussis explained how the program allowed the students to learn about building a business from its conception to the marketplace. He is very proud of the outcome.

Fourth graders Julie Kobilarcik and Shea Dougherty explained how they created Savage Jewelry. They said, in order to find out how to make jewelry, they went to the craft store Michael’s to get ideas. They found an idea that they liked, which included hammering a piece of metal into a circle and then embossing the circles with a special tool. The girls made original metal necklaces and then also sold decorative charms to be added.

Abby Lee, a fourth grader, took her love of books and her love of art and put them together to create Bookmarks by Abby. She drew the original designs by hand, scanned them on the computer, and then put them on card stock. She finished them by adding ribbons.

Fifth graders Abigail Guerriero Ocasio and Ria Talwar had fun drawing customers over to their table to explain how their Do It Yourself (DIY) slime kits worked. The girls were using marketing techniques to promote shoppers to stop at their table and buy their DIY Kits.

Rebecca and Eli Rosen took the idea that all children buy their mothers gifts for Mother’s Day, so they developed a sand art business connected to Mother’s Day gift giving. Their mother said that the concept was a family idea. Rebecca and Eli were enjoying the event and said they had “fun learning about business.”

Fifth grader Michael Maly took his “passion for nature and birds” to develop his business of Michael’s Custom Woodshop. Maly researched how to make different types of bird feeders and bird houses.  By using reclaimed wood in his woodshop, Maly made custom pieces, including a cardinal house and log feeders. Because he loves nature, Maly contributes to the Hilldale Peace Garden by feeding the birds and taking care of the garden.

Brandon Cash had fun with his name creating Ca$h’s Treat$. He said that people love their pets and like to buy them special treats, so he created dog biscuits. Cash said he is getting a dog in the near future.

Allison Mancini, at the time of the interview, had almost sold out of her Pom Pom Poppers. They were a big hit. She had a good time demonstrating her creation to all those who came to her table.

Sofia Modrak took her love for jewelry and created homemade bracelets in different styles and colors. She also had a Guess the Number of Marshmallows game at her table. The winner got a free bracelet.

Palak Maheshwari developed Classy Coasters that not only serve as coasters but includes a signature twist by allowing purchasers the ability to add a variety of inspirational sayings to each coaster.

Many students said that their projects were “hard work but a lot of fun.”