South Charlotte

Fifth-graders (cook) book a trip

What started as a fundraiser for the fifth-graders at Eastover Elementary School has become a lesson on entrepreneurship, marketing and advertising - and the kids couldn't be more excited.

Every year, the fifth-graders at Eastover take an overnight trip. This year's destination is Charleston.

"It is something the fifth-graders really look forward to, like a rite of passage. And every year we do fundraisers to try to offset the cost," said Julie Steffens, a fifth-grade mom and one of the project organizers.

Given the tough economy, fundraising efforts this year are especially important.

Cindy Higgins, another parent organizer, was reminded of a cookbook Eastover made in 2006 for that year's fundraiser. It was a hit and many parents said they'd like to see another one.

This being Eastover's 75th year, there was an additional incentive to create the book in honor of the school's history. Higgins took the lead on the project with Steffens playing a key role. They worked on a plan over the summer for the 2011 Eastover Eats Cookbook.

The women, who each have a child in fifth grade, decided to get the students involved. They've taught the students about marketing and entrepreneurship.

Higgins and Steffens then set up competitions between the two classes to see who could collect the most recipes and who could pre-sell the most books. The rewards were an ice cream party and donut party.

In five days, the two classes collected 251 recipes. The students also sold 400 cookbooks.

Fifth-grader Anne Carlton won most individual presales, with 29. She earned a $25 gift card to Target.

"We learned a lot about profit and we also learned how to spell hors d'oeuvres," said fifth-grader Grace Fergeson.

Josh Williams said the project has taught him how to start his own business. "You have to just keep going no matter what and never stop," he said.

Higgins and Steffens will have a supplement of student recipes printed to accompany the cookbook. The supplement is called Eagles Prey.

Knox Long, another fifth-grade student, submitted a recipe for "candy sushi," which was a big hit at the school's Fall Fun Day a few weeks ago. Other students submitted hand-drawn pictures that will serve as section dividers in the cookbook.

All the fifth-graders were thrilled to show off their drawings. Many shared the wish to one day start their own business.

At the Fall Fun Day, the kids assisted in making signs and food to sell at the baked goods table. All the food came from Eastover Eats recipes and was made by parents and students. The children also showed customers a mock-up of the cookbook to encourage pre-sales.

The book has a diverse collection, Higgins said.

The final set of recipes, stories and pictures went to the printer Nov. 1 and they hope to have 700 copies ready by Thanksgiving.

Once the books are in, the real marketing push begins.

"We have to think of ways to get people to notice the cookbooks and our class voted on whether to put up signs or make a website and that sort of stuff," Audrey Kelly said.