If you've ever been to Aspen Academy on a Friday when AMP'd, our Aspen Morning Program, is scheduled, you may have noticed the Bear's Store. If you haven't noticed the store, you've probably seen the Bear's Coffee Cart, and maybe even bought yourself a coffee or a breakfast burrito. Or, on the off chance that you haven't noticed the coffee cart, and you have attended AMP'd, then you have definitely seen the Bear's Broadcast.
What you may or may not know is that Bear's Student Enterprises, or BSE for short, is composed of all ancillary businesses on campus. This includes not only a café, a store and a broadcast, but also a publications division and an executive team. These businesses are all owned and operated by 7th and 8th grade students. And by operated, I mean that the students create financial statements, determine marketing opportunities, and run the day-to-day business operations of each division. It's very different than the school store you may have worked at in middle school - I know it looks very different than the store at my middle school. And I surely had no idea what a P&L was or how much revenue was generated or what the budget was for my school store. But the 7th and 8th graders who own and operate the BSE divisions are learning these things - and a lot more. They are learning how to market products and create segments for production; they are learning to speak in front of an audience of 400 people and pitch ideas, run financial reports and edit spreadsheets. They are learning to be leaders, to listen to others and to generate ideas. Real world stuff.
What many people do not learn until their first after-college job, Aspen Academy students learn at 12 and 13 years old. They are many steps ahead as they walk into the doors of their high school, which is exactly where we want them to be. We want them modeling what it looks like to lead. We want them generating the new ideas. We want them speaking in front of audiences. We want them questioning. Why? Because if not them, then who?