DZ students taking care of business

Management, marketing skills come early to kids in Young Entrepreneurs Club

Posted: Sunday, January 20, 2002

There's a new corporate power growing in Juneau.

It's a diversified business, with holdings in the food service, music and entertainment fields. And the people behind this operation? Students at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School.

The Young Entrepreneurs Club, an after-school program started last school year by sixth-grade teacher John Wahl, is a group of six to eight students who work on projects in the school and community to learn management, marketing and other business skills.

"We try to come up with entrepreneurial ideas and see them through to fruition," he said.

Among their ventures are organizing a computer game tournament, producing a CD and starting the sale of breakfast food at school in the morning, which has been among their most successful projects.

Eighth-grader Matt Cabrigas said club members started that effort by figuring out the most popular - and thus most profitable - items to promote and sell.

The club's CD

The Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School Young Entrepreneurs Club recently produced a CD featuring music performed by the school's Advanced Band for its winter concert.

The CD features the following six pieces:

• Symphonic March, an arrangement of a Brahms work;

• Southwest Overture, by William Harbinson;

• Russian Cossack Dance, from "Two Russian Songs," by Modest Mussorgsky;

• Symphony No. 40 in G minor, an arrangement of a Mozart work;

• "Marche Slav," by Tchaikovsky;

• and Dona Nobis Pacem, a traditional work.

Dzantik'i Heeni band teacher Patrick Murphy said the recording session was challenging, squeezing three run-throughs of each of the six songs into 50 minutes. He complimented the band on its discipline.

"For them to have the focus for this to happen ... was the most impressive thing," he said.

"We sent out surveys to the rest of the school to find out what kinds of foods they like," Cabrigas said.

The ongoing proceeds from the food sale have been rolled over into new projects. Creating a CD of the school's Advanced Band playing its winter concert music is the club's latest project.

"We asked ourselves, 'If you were a parent at DZ, what might you want to buy as a memory (of your child's years there),' " Wahl said.

Cabrigas, along with seventh-graders E.J. Thorpe and Luther Riley and sixth-grader Jason Alexander, borrowed most of the recording equipment and used their savings to purchase the rest, as well as the blank CDs and cases.

"E.J. and I burned the CDs and helped make the labeling," Cabrigas said.

Cabrigas said he has enjoyed the opportunities to learn advanced computer programs programs Wahl said are usually not feasible to teach in the regular classroom.

"They've been learning how to use some really quality software some higher-level programs not available to a class of 30 kids," he said.

As they work to market their current CD, the group is planning more audio-visual ventures.

Next year, they plan to create CDs from more concerts, such as the spring band concert later this school year. They would like to make videos of concerts, and expand their efforts to include the orchestra, choir and other performance groups at the school.

The students said the projects have taught them valuable lessons.

"I've learned a lot," Alexander said. "Now when we grow up, we'll (already) know all about business."

To buy a copy of the Dzantik'i Heeni Advanced Band CD, which costs $10, call John Wahl at Dzantik'i Heeni at 463-1899 or send an e-mail to

Andrew Krueger can be reached at

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