One project underway at Cartersville High School is helping students in a number of ways.
An idea that formulated in Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Darrell Demastus’ mind has turned into a successful T-shirt business that is giving students in three Career Technical and Aviation Academy pathways – graphic design taught by Valerie Veiga, small business and entrepreneurship taught by Tim Graves and marketing taught by Camille Spradley – real-world work experience, supplying shirts for special events to students who normally can’t afford to buy them and raising money for the athletic department.
“I wanted to create the business for a variety of reasons,” Demastus said. “At each home game, we have a specific theme, and we sell T-shirts relating to that theme. There are times when I look up in the stands at Weinman Stadium and see students who can participate and students who are not able to participate. I wanted to find a way to make the T-shirts affordable so that every student who wanted to purchase a home-game T-shirt could do so.”
The athletic director, who is in charge of the project, said he also thought a business venture would be a “good addition to our CTAE program, giving students in three different pathways hands-on experience.”
“First, our graphic design pathway designs the T-shirts while students in our small business and entrepreneurship pathway learn valuable lessons about project budgeting, hidden costs and production, and marketing pathway students assist with the promotion and sales,” he said.
Using a direct-to-garment printer, two heat presses and a pre-treat machine all purchased by the athletic department, the 140 juniors and seniors enrolled in the pathways began printing shirts for special events as well as CHS teams, clubs and organizations and other Cartersville City schools almost immediately after the equipment was set up in graphic design classroom on Sept. 14, Demastus said.
“We know that students learn valuable lessons from hands-on experiences,” he said. “We are excited to offer them the opportunity to learn a variety of lessons on running a business, including analyzing profit and loss margins, budgeting, effective promotion strategy and pricing, sourcing production materials as well as getting the experience of manually creating the product.”
Students also are put into “real-world situations where there is a product and customer” and where they have to “work together to meet deadlines and make a quality product,” Veiga said.
The T-shirts are affordable, but the cost depends on the shirt color and the colors used in the design, Demastus said, noting the creation for the Cass/Cartersville football game last month, for example, sold for $10.
“We are pleased to be able to save our clubs a considerable amount of money,” he said. “Recently, we printed a hoodie for our band that normally would have cost around $22 a hoodie; however, we were able to produce it for less than $15. A general T-shirt that costs $8 to $10, we can do it for $5.”
All proceeds from the shirt sales go back to the athletic department to help compensate for the revenue that’s been lost this year due to football games being canceled because of COVID-19, said Demastus, noting he’s “not sure at this point” how much money the school has lost.
“[The business] is going extremely well,” he said. “There are times when students from the classes are working on it every day.”
Senior Adariah Dyer, who is enrolled in the small business and entrepreneurship pathway, said she would “highly recommend this to be established in schools as a hands-on business class.”
“Not a lot of people understand how critical it is, especially for minors, to understand the process of a business and the leadership that each individual has in playing their part,” she said.
Mason McBee, also a senior, is excited about being involved in running a real business while still in high school.
“I love this opportunity because it is student-driven and contributes to the improvement of our school,” he said. “As a Purple Hurricane, I love to see my efforts contributing to our community."
McBee, 17, who plans to major in business in college, added he does pre-press, printing and organizing the finished shirts each week during first and seventh periods.
Dyer, who is the production manager, said running a business has helped her learn more about herself.
“I have learned a few things about myself, more than I thought I would have, especially working with my associates,” the 17-year-old said. “I do not think I realized how capable I am as an individual to help lead and apply instruction into the business area as well as my own personal attributes.”
The business has been a major learning experience for McBee.
“From this project, I have learned many skills such as organization, teamwork, time management and communication,” he said. “I have furthered my knowledge of use of machinery, T-shirt design and distribution.”