Twenty seventh- and eighth-graders put their hands up, but the room still wasn’t quiet. “When I see your hands up, that tells me that you’re being quiet, you’re listening to Mr. Hale, and you’re ready to have a party.”

So began the first annual year end celebration of USM’s Students In Free Enterprise’s (SIFE) work at King Middle School. Last November, SIFE formed a partnership with Junior Achievement (JA), an international non-profit organization dedicated to educating and inspiring young people about business and economics, to create SIFEJA.

Seventh-grader Natasha Worrey said that the best thing about the program was “the college students.” “They’re really helpful during the activities,” she said.

Worrey won tickets to the circus for her essay on an early activity called “What’s the Diff?” The point of the exercise was to teach the students about the impacts of illegally downloading music.

Each group had to design a CD, complete with cover and lyrics, as well as a business plan for a record company, which was used as a basis point to demonstrate the economic impacts that pirated music has on companies.

John Voyer, director of SIFE at USM, said some of the JA curriculum needed to be easier to understand, and the USM students teamed up to design activities that would interest and teach the King students effectively. “We took the JA curriculum– the USM students took it and altered it. They were very creative, and these kids added a lot.”

Voyer said that the four primary goals are to teach underprivleged students about personal financial success, how free market economies work, entrepreneurship and business ethics. Estera LeConte, treasurer of SIFE, said that “the program is very important, because the school is so diverse.”

Conor McCormick, secretary of SIFE, showed the group slides for the presentation that SIFE will be taking to a regional competition in Boston on April 8. The presentation outlines the successful activities that SIFE has accomplished in their first year as a student group, including their work with King Middle School.

LeConte said “It’s very important for us to participate in this. We’re a new group, and it’s good for us to be able to show what we’ve done, as well as gauge how we’re doing.” The trip is funded partially by fundraised money, and partly by a Student Activity Fee money grant from the BSO. Heather Quimby, SIFE member, was glad that the referendum to raise the SAF passed in the recent election.

“But I’m a little biased, because I’m in a student group. It will help us a lot though, and I think it’s a good thing.”

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