Vermont Day School partners with Lake Champlain Chocolates on fair trade project

As part of its annual spring tradition, Vermont Day School recently teamed up with a local business to create a real-world learning opportunity for its students. This year’s project was particularly sweet, as the Day School partnered with Lake Champlain Chocolates (LCC).

Students visited the LCC headquarters to learn about the company and the process of making chocolate, from bean to bar. At LCC, they met with Communications Specialist Meghan Fitzpatrick, who asked students to create marketing and educational materials to teach others about the concept of fair trade.

The K-6 graders eagerly returned to Vermont Day School to tackle the challenge. In ways appropriate for their age group, each class learned about the concept of fair trade: what it means, how it works, and why it is important to both local and global economies. As explained by a third-grade student, “Fair trade is not as complicated as people think. It’s about farmers and workers around the world being treated fairly and getting what they deserve.”

Next came the creative and collaborative part of the project. Students worked in teams to develop innovative ways for LCC to market their fair trade products. “I’m always amazed by how naturally students are able to think out of the box, when given the opportunity,” said faculty member Brea Schwartz.

The teams came up with a variety of ideas, ranging from wristbands to comic strips, board games to iMovies, and artwork to music. Each product and idea highlighted an aspect of fair trade that the students felt compelled to share.

As a culmination of the project, students honed their presentation skills and returned to the LCC headquarters to pitch their ideas to members of the marketing team. As explained by Fitzpatrick, “Everyone on the LCC team was extremely impressed with the students’ ability to present so professionally to a room full of peers and adults. It was incredibly refreshing and valuable to hear from kids.”

Vermont Day School plans to continue its tradition of partnering with local businesses to create authentic learning experiences. Past collaborations have included Burton Snowboards and Seventh Generation.  As explained by Head of School Sage Bagnato, “As we prepare students to be effective collaborators, strong communicators and creative problem solvers, it’s important to give them opportunities to develop these competencies both in and out of the classroom.”

Vermont Day School is an independent K-8 school in Shelburne, whose mission is to foster the skills, knowledge, personal attributes and work habits that enable children to thrive effectively, meaningfully and joyously in the world of today and tomorrow.