Would you buy a resort from these kids? Frelinguysen students give experts the business

These two power players, Olivia Kemper and Evan Haralampoudis, helped the On Top of the World Resort land an award for Best Trade Show. Photo by Maryanne Saxon, Feb. 23, 2015

By Maryanne Saxon

Sad news: Your Great Uncle Leo has passed on to greener pastures.

Not so sad news: Good Ol’ Uncle Leo named you his sole beneficiary, and left you a sizable piece of property in an exotic location.

Finally, your life-long desire to establish and manage the resort of your dreams (think Kellerman’s, from Dirty Dancing) is possible!

There’s just one glitch. You know NOTHING about planning, funding or operating a resort.

Thankfully, dozens of future executives are ready to help you with every step. Be warned, their advice most likely will come at a premium. And never mind they they are eating brown-bagged lunches. Savvier businessmen and women would be hard to find.

We’re talking about students from Frelinghuysen Middle School’s 6th-grade Quest class. They have been working with volunteers from SCORE,  a free business mentoring service, for several months on a project called WOWSEE, short for World of Work Simulated Entrepreneurial Experience.

The project culminated recently with a Shark Tank– style presentation at  the Lafayette Learning Center in Morristown.  Students made pitches to SCORE members, who acted as judges and potential investors.

CEO Nick Voltaggio pitches his proposal while Avery Bromage, sizes up the board of investors before she presents. The Fame and Fortune Team walked away with an award for best commercial. Photo by Maryanne Saxon

Students created virtual resorts, from the ground up. They named CEOs, CFOs and advertising/marketing executives,  created business plans, developed budgets, analyzed projected P/L statements (Profit/Loss) and SWOTs (Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats), hatched marketing and advertising campaigns, and created websites.

Throughout the process, SCORE volunteers visited classes to provide real-world guidance and insight.

The Rockerz Resort, headed by 6th grader-turned-CEO Tomi Webber, displayed a glowing sign and a unique approach to the world of resorting.

Donning Rockerz shirts, the corporate team pitched a business plan filled with reasonable room rates and a long list of attractions.  The band Fall Out Boy is “scheduled” to perform at the resort this spring. Rockerz sounded like a jamming good time.

The Rockerz team poses delivering its pitch to the ‘sharks.’ On stage from L to R- Tomi Webber, Katie Siverson,Lena Schmitt, Henrick Zahl, Roshan Sapra, and Jacob Fuhr. In front, Quest teacher, Mrs. Henke. Photo by Maryanne Saxon


For a more relaxed getaway, members of the Coral Cove corporate group pitched a “home away from home” proposal to the judges. The Fame and Fortune Resort team, professionally attired with red power ties, came prepared to speak about their 3-5 year projections, with promises to repay their mythical investors with all due haste.

Leaders from the Fame and Fortune Resort came prepared. To be professional, one must look professional. Not a problem for Daniel Bourland and Nicholas Voltaggio. Photo by Maryanne Saxon, Feb 23, 2015

The judges found the students to be articulate, and their web designs, commercials and pamphlets, creative and well researched.  Thoughtful and ambitious, these pitches left nothing to chance.

Now in its fourth year, the WOWSEE program was orchestrated by FMS Quest teachers Bruce Chamberlain and Carlene Henke.

“The presentations just keep getting more sophisticated,”said Mrs. Henke, as she sat back and enjoyed the final pitches.

Bill Carlucci, a SCORE volunteer who has been with WOWSEE from the start, said he “is blown away” by what the kids deliver each year.

But enough chitchat. We have to go now and book our vacation at Rockerz, before it sells out.







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