Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Cook Library Scholars: World’s Finest Entrepreneurs!

By Allison Palm, GAAH Intern

When the teens in the Cook Library Scholars program heard that The Phantom of the Opera would be performed through Broadway Grand Rapids, they immediately wanted to see the show together.

The group, made up of 6th through 8th grade students, has been infatuated with the opera ever since seeing Tosca as a class.

“I just find the opera exciting in general—how people can sing like that and hold notes for so long,” Itzel chimed with awe.

“Operas are just very interesting,” Emmanuel said. “My favorite part is the dancing.”

The Scholars discovered that ticket prices for The Phantom of the Opera were quite pricey; however, they were not deterred. Instead of being discouraged, they decided to raise the ticket money themselves.

“Since we didn’t have enough funding, we thought of a way we could learn how to do business and learn to do things ourselves,” Itzel explained.

Miss Sujey, the teen program coordinator at the Cook Library Center, oversaw their business project and beamed as the students shared their excitement and sense of accomplishment.

They all groaned and laughed with despair. “How could you ask such an impossible question?” Bryant jeered.

By selling “World’s Finest Chocolate” to friends, family, and neighbors, the Scholars raised over $1,000—doubling their initial goal.

“It was an independent learning experience of how to do business, sell something, and make a profit,” Emmanuel added. “And besides the help from Miss Sujey and Miss Monica, we did it on our own. That feels really good.”

“I can’t wait to see the opera, hear the music, see the costumes…pretty much everything,” Itzel smiled.

“The suspense,” Angel said, eyes widening. “I can’t wait for the suspense.”

When asked if they would raise money again for another performance, they all echoed like a chorus with “yes!” The Scholars are already strategizing what they will sell next.

“If you could go to any arts experience in the world what would you choose?” I questioned. “Maybe a museum, a performance, an opera…and your ticket is free. What would you choose?”

Once Emmanuel offered his dream of seeing the Broadway musical Hamilton, they all celebrated in agreement.

“We’ll need to sell a lot of chocolate to get to see Hamilton on Broadway!” they joked.

The teens ended up raising enough money to enjoy dinner at the Olive Garden (their choice) prior to the performance. 

The Cook Library Scholars exemplify an inspiring amount of passion and curiosity for the arts. If it takes selling thousands of chocolate bars to get to a Broadway performance, there is no glimmer of doubt that these students would not only meet that goal, but would likely double it. That’s just the kind of determination they have.