By Amy Reynolds, Communications Specialist
This article appeared in the Fall 2017 issue of the Tower Hill Bulletin
Most summers, Marvi Ali ‘21 would visit her grandparents in India and bring back with her goods made by local women. Her friends admired the handcrafted bags, jewelry and scarves, so she decided to sell them through Instagram and by word of mouth, donating the profits to charities helping the rural areas of India and Pakistan. But she wanted to make a bigger impact.
When Ali was 11 years old, she participated in the Youth CITIES boot camp in Boston and won the business plan competition, which came with a $1,500 grant to work on her business. At Youth CITIES, she began working on ZuMantra, an online platform designed to help rural women sell their goods to a wider audience.
When she started attending Tower Hill School this past fall, Ali decided to create a Young Entrepreneurs Club as part of the Independent Enrichment Activities (IDEA) Program so she and other Middle School students could work on and expand their business ideas.
Now in its third year, the IDEA Program is a club-based program for Middle School students to engage in a variety of extracurricular activities during their free periods. From origami to improv to LEGO robotics, there’s a club for everyone’s interests. Students also have the option to create their own club.
“The IDEA clubs are an opportunity for the kids to immerse themselves in an activity that interests them, something that’s outside of the curriculum,” said Middle School English teacher Chris Theim, who sponsored Ali’s Young Entrepreneurs Club.
The IDEA Program clubs are often student-led, as is the Young Entrepreneurs Club. Theim serves as the club’s mentor and is there to answer questions when needed, but it’s Ali who runs the biweekly meetings. She’ll often start the session with a discussion about a business-related topic, such as target audiences or working with a budget, and will then help the other students relate that topic to their own businesses.
“Marvi’s the kind of student where, she’s so self-motivated that if you just keep a little wind in her sails, she’ll do the rest,” Theim said.
Another IDEA Program club is the Stock Market Game, where student groups are each given $100,000 (pretend, of course) to invest in stocks over a 10-week period.
Eight teams from Tower Hill participated in the game, and out of 160 teams in Delaware, one THS team came in 10th place, with the group’s $100,000 growing to $105,397.25 in just 10 weeks. Another group came in 158th place, which, according to Middle School math teacher and Stock Market Game adviser Paul Mulvena, proves it truly is a learning experience.
“Tower Hill is about Multa Bene Facta—Many Things Done Well—so the student experience is they get exposed to many different things,” Mulvena said. “This is an opportunity for them to get exposure to something they might not normally get exposure to until they get a little older.”
Theim describes the IDEA Program as “serious fun.” While the clubs are guided, students have much more flexibility than they would in a traditional class.
“The kids really enjoy it because it gives them the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in an activity that normally wouldn’t be in their school day,” Theim said. “Middle School kids are really receptive to the idea of choice. You feel more immersed in something when you get the choice.”