Peabody High principal Ed Sapienza believes in the effort so much that he eats this cereal daily, and it is pretty good, he says.
The high school's student marketing club DECA is selling Tanners Crunch, a Kashi-like blend of cornflakes, granola, raisins and almonds, to benefit academics and athletics. In fact, all 110 members of the club are now actively involved in a student-formed corporation to market the cereal to other students, parents and the community.
Each box of cereal costs $5. DECA advisor and business teacher Leonard Brand breaks it down: "One dollar of every box will go to the technology fund to keep technology updated, elementary schools get $3 and DECA will get $1."
The intent of DECA is to teach students marketing, advertising, sales and distribution skills with actual products. Students also take marketing, advertising, accounting and television production classes.
For Tanners Crunch, business teacher Beth Henrick assigns her 10 students to do inventory, record-keeping, cereal distribution and physical deposits.
"Two of my classes made two commercials to advertise the cereal on TV," she said.
And there are prizes, both for sales performance and ones inside some cereal boxes. About 350 lucky winners will open their boxes of Tanners Crunch to find gift certificates to an iPad 2, tickets to the Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics, or dinner at one of many restaurants.
Student CEO John Slate-Romano keeps track of which classes sold the most boxes of cereal and awards pizza parties or donuts. Elementary school classes get to participate in this way as well.
According to DECA vice president and co-chairman of the prize committee Melissa Wright, the PVHMS chapter costs $28,000 (including airfare and board), and the cereal sales will help defray travel costs to nationals for the club.
Sapienza was first approached with the concept by Andy Friend of Community Crunch Fundraising and Advertising in September. After talking over the idea, he agreed to purchase 5,000 boxes and DECA's goal now is to sell them all by the summer. He said Friend's company, based in Woburn, makes its money through advertising sales on the boxes with local companies.
Sapienza said the actual cereal sales just got underway earlier this month after the students conducted all their market research. They have 3,800 to go.
Since the fall, the new student corporation met with the School Committee, the Rotary Club, a business forum and City Council, says Bianca Falconi, the vice president of public relations.
"If the concept is embraced by the community, the monies raised can help each school to [have] a multimedia classroom fully equipped with a laptop computer, HDMI projector, cart and a digital projection device," Sapienza said. "And, if they are really enthusiastic, the potential exists to throw in a SmartBoard, too."
Superintendent Dr. Herbert Levine is also enthusiastic about this undertaking.
"This fundraiser is a high-profit, low-risk venture taken on by some entrepreneurial students trying to raise money for the high school through a healthy product," Levine said. "I fully support their creativity and enthusiasm. Mr. Sapienza has played a major role in helping with this effort."
"We are always promoting the importance of teamwork and giving something back, as well as hard work paying off. These traits can be found throughout this effort," Levine said.
But it's not all fun and games, or rather cereal sales.
DECA competition includes written exams, spontaneous role-play situations and project presentations. And as mentioned before, Peabody did make it to the national level of club competition this year in Orlando, Fla.
Stephanie Pimenta, club co-president, said it was "one of the best experiences of her life."
"I met students from all over the U.S., including a girl from Colorado, where I want to go to college. We're really close friends, and talk about simple teenage problems," Pimenta said.
She added that she's hoping to return to nationals next year in Salt Lake City, Utah with a banking finance operations project.
For more information on the club or Tanners Crunch, call the PVMHS business department at 978-536-4500.