Rolling in the dough: M-S students raise funds for community holiday help

Last week, Mahomet-Seymour High School students were rolling in the dough — literally.

More than 100 students spread across four sections of economics classes were knee deep in cookie dough for the course's Cookie Project.

Students baked dozens upon dozens of cookies to sell at the junior high and high school all for a good cause.

"It gets to go toward all of the kids that don't necessarily have presents for Christmas (in the school district)," senior Colin Balbach said.

The project begins with eight teams of students baking more than 7,500 cookies to raise the necessary $6,000 for Mahomet-Seymour schools' students who Nicholas DiFilippo, a high school social sciences teacher, said likely wouldn't receive Christmas presents otherwise.

"I think it is a great real-world project," DiFilippo said. "They get to learn what it is like to run a business. They get to see how hard it is but also how rewarding it is when they get to give back to their fellow students that are in need."

Senior Gavin Debrun described the project as a bit of "psychic income."

"In economics, rather than doing things for profit, sometimes you do things that mentally give you profit, make you feel good," he said. "With the profits going toward charity, it's a little bit of psychic income."

But the students also get the opportunity to learn the beginnings of creating a business from scratch.

"They decide who wants to run and be presidents. They then write resumes to the cookie presidents. We then select the teams and the students start putting the plans into action," DiFilippo said.

Economics students even compare previous years' cookie-selling data. Teams design and sell T-shirts to raise the necessary startup capital, and after all T-shirts are sold, they can begin surveying students to get an idea of what kinds of cookies to bake and market.

"I'm graduating early so having a class where I could work a lot with real-life experiences, like owning a small business, and being able to work with people and work on a team was a nice prep into going into college and into working full time," senior Catherine Tandy said.

Her biggest takeaway?

Teamwork.

"Organizing my time and delegating tasks instead of taking it all on was helpful because I tend to do that a lot," Tandy said.

Students even created an advertising plan and made TV commercials, and sophomore Kailey Bell's group looked no further than social media to lead her group's efforts.

"We also have incentives every day," Bell said. "If you spent a certain amount of money, you could get free treats."

The Cookie Project is now a longstanding tradition for high school students, and some even consider it a "right of passage," DiFilippo said.

"I have run the program for 14 years at MSHS and it amazes me how hard the kids work on the project and how compassionate they are about wanting to give back to others who are in need," DiFilippo said.

The Cookie Project got its start at M-S after DiFilippo initially encountered the concept while working with a teacher at Normal Community High School during his studies at Illinois State University.

"I decided to take and adapt the project into what we have now," he added.

His efforts paid off as the students shattered their goal with more than $7,000 raised. While the students enjoy raising money for area community members in need, they also enjoy the lifetime of memories the Cookie Project creates.

"When you make a batch of cookies and they're not turning out right and you have to spend a couple of hours more than you probably should on them, it's almost so horrible it's funny," junior Payton Turk said. "You start to laugh at things that usually make you stressed out because it's a lot of work."

For Balbach, some of the funnier moments are the errors made in baking.

"Every once and awhile the cookies would be in the oven and we'd just be sitting there messing around and we'd forget about them and they'd go a little longer than they were supposed to," he said.

The Cookie Project also created bonding opportunities for the students — often times bumping elbows with others they may not have otherwise got to know.

"You hit 9 o'clock at night and everyone starts to get a little slap happy I guess," senior Kaitlyn Hall said. "It's listening to music while knee deep in Oreo balls

Categories (2):News, Education

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