WELLSBURG - A group of Brooke High School students got firsthand experience at operating a business while helping causes as near as the Brooke County Animal Shelter and as far as tsunami victims in Japan.
The students, all members of Mary Kohelis' economics class, simulated the establishment and operation of a corporation through the Junior Achievement program.
Dubbed People Regarding Interest in Demonstrating Economics, or P.R.I.D.E., the students elected leaders and sold ribbons to raise money for tsunami relief efforts and pop cans decorated for St. Patrick's Day to support the animal shelter.
Sold for $1 each, the ribbons consisted of black, red and white ribbons stitched together and glued to a pin and a small card bearing a brief explanation.
Each color was symbolic, with black representing the extensive loss of lives and property, red symbolizing the love shown by the many helping the survivors, and white standing for the many victims who have passed into the heavens, said Megan Salatino of Follansbee, the group's president.
The students presented $125 raised through their Ribbons for Relief campaign Carmen Petrini-Silvis, coordinator of preparedness, health and safety for the Wheeling-based River Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross.
Petrini-Silvis said upon learning of the donation, "I was thrilled. Who would think high school kids would think to do this today?"
Kohelis said Salatino suggested helping the tsunami victims, inspiring her classmates with her own home-made video depicting the devastation in Japan.
Set to Sarah McLachlan's "In the Arms of an Angel," the video includes images collected from the Internet of dead bodies covered with blankets, homes washed away by rushing water, crushed vehicles and boats washed ashore and into streets and onto rooftops.
It closed with the words "We can help" and "PRIDE."
Kelsey Bable of Follansbee, Salataino's friend and classmate, said they had heard frequently about the disaster through cable television news reports they viewed at school.
Petrini-Silvis said the American Red Cross has provided $100 million to relief efforts by the Japanese Red Cross that range from providing food, blankets, clothing, cleanup tools and other materials to victims at evacuation centers to helping families whose homes were destroyed, damaged or located within 18 miles of an affected nuclear plant to relocate.
Kohelis said the class might also have turned their attention to the many flood victims in the U.S. but the project occurred before the torrent of domestic natural disasters occurred.
Earlier this year the students sold "Paddy Pops," cans of Mountain Dew decorated to resemble leprechauns, for St. Patrick's Day.
A $92 profit from the cans was donated to the animal shelter for supplies.
Donations to the two causes came after 27 adult and teen shareholders for the mock corporation were repaid the $2 they had invested and a 10 percent profit amounting to 20 cents each.
The students advertised their fundraisers through fliers, signs and announcements on the school's television morning news program.
In addition to Salatino, the group's leaders were: Kirsten Minger, vice president of finance; Courtney Rine, vice president of marketing; Carly Schwertfeger, vice president of human resources; and Alec Hawken, vice president of production.
Todd Puskarich, a member of the class from Bethany, said Paddy Pops was among names suggested for the product and voted upon by the class.
As a member of P.R.I.D.E.'s production department, he traced the feet that were attached to the cans.
Classmate Quintan Pizer of Wellsburg said he enjoyed the creative aspects of the project.
He said he's learned a lot from the economics class, including how businesses are required to comply with government regulations.
Hawken, a junior from Weirton, said, "I think it was a good experience to work with everybody and see how we worked together as a class. I think it helped prepare us for our future jobs."
Kohelis said participating in the program has always been a positive experience for her students because it offers them insight into what's involved in planning and selling a product and encourages teamwork.
An added benefit is the business' profits have gone to various charities, she said.
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)