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Barnum High School wood production class proves its worth in dollars and sense

For a number of years now school budgets have been shrinking and program cuts have been increasing. It is usually electives such as industrial technology that hit the chopping block first and most often.

For a number of years now school budgets have been shrinking and program cuts have been increasing. It is usually electives such as industrial technology that hit the chopping block first and most often.

Barnum's industrial technology instructor, Rick Bird, and 11 students in his wood production class recently proved the value of industrial technology classes, both monetarily and academically. While teaching his students about industry, safety, mass production and the basic principal of supply and demand, Bird and his wood production students took on a business venture that put $1,500 back into the program. They made and sold bed frames.

Bird led his students step-by-step through the process that companies use on a daily basis to conduct business. Each of the students came up with a project he or she thought would be successful and performed market research on that product.

Out of those 11 ideas, the class then voted on the one they thought was best suited for the area market. Making and selling bed frames came out on top.

Research showed that bed frames similar to what they would make had a market value of $800 to $1,500. The class had the advantage of low overhead and wanted to offer the community a good value. They priced the bed frames at $125 over their cost. They charged $250 for a full-size frame, $325 for a queen-sized frame, and $425 for a king-sized frame.

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For one hour a day, five days a week, for one semester, the students mass produced 12 bed frames that were based on a queen-sized prototype made by Bird.

They advertised in the Public Reporter, Barnum Schools' community newsletter, that they were accepting orders for the bed frames. That was all it took to get the phone ringing with orders. In fact, the phone wouldn't stop ringing. They had to turn away customers.

"We made a dozen and we sold all 12," said Bird. "We could've sold 50 of them.

"The kids really worked hard on this project," Bird asserted. "They knew what they had to get done and they did a good job."

Because of its success, Bird is planning to do a similar venture again next year with a different product. Those who missed out this year will have an opportunity next year to get in on a good thing - if they're quick enough.

The program was successful on several levels. The students learned real life skills that make them employable in the industry job market. A profit of $1,500 was made and used to purchase tools and materials for the program. And, possibly most important, the students experienced success that they can build on. This school project makes sense and dollars.

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