‘Shark Tank’ event showcases Sixth-Grade entrepreneurs in Morristown

Participants in 'Shark Tank' event at the Lafayette Learning Center. Photo by Marie Pfeifer

Participants in ‘Shark Tank’ event at the Lafayette Learning Center. Photo by Marie Pfeifer

Thirty-five brand new entrepreneurs are about to storm the business world.  Well … in about 12 years!

Sixth-graders from the QUEST gifted-and-talented program at Frelinghuysen Middle School recently participated in WOWSEE, a program inspired by the popular cable television show Shark Tank.

WOWSEE stands for World of Work Simulated Entrepreneurial Experience, organized by the New Jersey Consortium for Gifted and Talented Programs Inc.

The students were mentored and their presentations were judged by SCORE, a volunteer organization that helps to launch small businesses.

Each student team had to deal with this scenario: The “chief executive” of each “corporation” has inherited a hotel and land that has fallen into disrepair from years of neglect.  It was once owned by a wealthy, long-lost uncle.

They formed simulated start-up companies to design, create, and develop themed resorts, with designated positions and roles.  They also had to develop a marketing strategy appropriate for their target audiences.

Photos by Marie Pfeifer

The project required the students to stage a trade show, prepare videos of commercials, oral presentations, advertising and marketing strategies, a five-year business projection, and a competitive marketing analysis. “The students worked to their strengths when deciding which roles each student should assume,” said Carlene Henke, a QUEST teacher.

The students used their “trade show” to exhibit brochures and visuals showcasing features of their resorts.  Business cards at the ready, they also pitched attendees to make reservations.

Top honors in the trade show category were taken by the “Season 5 Resorts” and “Royal Towers” teams.

“Both teams demonstrated their ability to project in a simple, direct manner that would be appealing to a wide range of people,” said Beth Hyer, a member of SCORE.

A set of human chess pieces in the Royal Towers video commercial scored second place.  They were trumped by Magnificent Mo[nu]ments Resorts with a play on words and a snazzy commercial advertising hotel rooms in the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building and Butchart Gardens — all located in South Dakota!

“It was very interesting to experience what real-life entrepreneurs do,” said Mai Cecala, CEO of the Royal Towers team.

Research was a large part of this exercise.

“I enjoyed working on the project.  I researched the cost on the Small Business Association (SBA) website,” said Sophy Duby, CEO of the Polu Kai Resort and Spa team.

Hart Coven, a SCORE mentor, admired the kids’ progress.  “It was good to see where the kids started from in October and how far they have come since we first began working together.  They’ve learned how to give oral presentations, create videos and how to work together.”

Bill Carlucci, SCORE coach, lauded the two QUEST teachers.

“Carlene Henke and Bruce Chamberlain have done a great job bringing the ‘Shark Tank’ experience to their sixth-grade students. The program allows the students to learn about methods and tools used to develop a business concept. Many people do not have an experience like this until college, graduate school or when they are starting a business.

“The students are provided a nurturing environment, which encourages creativity and independence with the necessary support to assure everyone is successful.

“I have been a part of this program for three years and each year the student enthusiasm has been terrific. I enjoy working with them and the manner in which they approach their  work is impressive. I thoroughly enjoy the students’ final presentations. Their teachers and parents should be proud of the direction and example they have provided these fine students.”

Next up for the sixth-graders: The Morris County Regional Debate Tournament in May.




Season 5 – The Season of Fun

Lauren Smith – CMO

Lauren Broseker – CO/CFO

Luke Marum – CO/CEO

Brendan Tierney CO/CEO

Erica Van Sciver – CIO

Royal Towers Resort

Mia Cecala – DEO of Marketing and Sales

Zachary Goldman – CFO

Anna Alessio – CEO of Advertising and Public Relations

Thomas Sporer – Executive Board Secretary

Brendan Doherty – CEO of Technology


 Polu Kai Resort and Spa

Tara O’Neill – CDOI/Finances

Stephanie Oha – Restaurants

Sophy Duby – CFO

Luci Farro – CEO/Finances

Dylan Lombardi – Competitive Analysis

Ajhand Jordan – CMO

Aldan Myers – Website


Aquarius Palace Resorts

Jacqeline Clay – CEO of Advertising and Public Relations

Isabella Ha – Executive Board Secretary

Grace Miller – CEO of Technology

Atti Meriluoto – CEO and CFO

Alexander Greorgiev – CEO of Development

Molly Sibona – CEO of Marketing and Sales


4 Elements

Sheetal Bangalore – CEO

Anne Merritt – CMO

Vienna Volinsky – Executive Board Secretary

Olivia Denman – CAO

Paul Tsien – CIO

Jake Reynolds – Jake Reynolds


Magnificent Moments

Matt Torrisi – CEO

Christian Buseo – CEO of Advertising and Marketing

Luisa Zapata – CEO of Technology

Luna Agilar – Executive Board Secretary

Jasmine Ha – Chief Financial Office

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