May. 30, 2023 By Ethan Marshall
Bayside High School hosted its annual Social Entrepreneur Trade Fair Friday. Students from the Career and Technical Education Humanities and Nonprofit Management program each pitched their socially responsible products to students, staff and others in attendance.
Each of the 11th grade students in the program have been taking a college credit course from Farmingdale State College called Social Entrepreneur. The students were divided into 17 groups of five and tasked with coming up with innovative ideas to create businesses while also being socially responsible. The Social Entrepreneur Trade Fair grants them with the opportunity to work on pitching their products to potential customers.
Among the many products and ideas at the trade fair were candles made from renewably sourced beeswax, edible candles for uses like birthday cakes and reusable candles. While many of the ideas and products related to candles, there were other things there as well, including a stain remover made from reusing mass produced plastic markers and sustainably sourced products, environmentally friendly recycled paper to provide for businesses and eco-friendly beauty and skincare products.
According to Bayside High School teacher Sandra Mark, it was imperative that the students were socially responsible in coming up with their business ideas. She also mentioned that since the program is sequential, these students learned about nonprofit management during their sophomore years, which has benefitted them as they prepared for this trade fair. They also had the chance to take a project management certification exam.
“From a social skill aspect, they’re learning to understand in terms of putting a business out there and cost management,” Mark said. “From a social aspect, they’re learning to collaborate with one another. They’re learning what work ethic is about. They’re learning how to present [their products and ideas].”
Bayside High School teacher Stephanie Fox highlighted the importance for these students to be able to speak publicly. This event helps them build experience and confidence in that area.
“It prepares them for success in college and their career,” Fox said. “It builds up their confidence.”
More than 500 people attended the Social Entrepreneur Trade Fair. In addition to Bayside High School students, staff and alumni, some of the other notable attendees included Congresswoman Grace Meng, Assemblyman Edward Braunstein, Deputy Superintendent at the NYC Department of Education Kyleema Norman, Chief of Staff to Superintendent Richard Cintron at the NYC Department of Education Odette Duggan and Bayside commercial partners in the community.
“I think the creativity of the students is very impressive,” Braunstein said. “The way they go over their social visions, whether it’s protecting the environment or promoting good mental health, it’s been impressive and speaks to the confidence of the students.”
Each attendee of the Social Entrepreneur Trade Fair was provided with four tickets that were meant to represent one’s interest in a business. The more tickets a group collects, the more popular the product was to attendees. The fact that each attendee only received four meant that they had to think hard about which of the 17 groups would earn one and the groups would need to work hard to earn them.
“You may like the presentation, you may like the product, you may like the sales pitch,” Fox said. “It is all part of their learning process. An individual has to really think about the company, the product and the sales pitch. This is really important for the students to utilize their skillset, whether it’s through answering questions, knowing their product or understanding the sales or marketing techniques.”