Tjardes School of Innovation’s Market Night sells learning and celebration in final event at downtown Greeley building

Fourteen-year-old Ronan Bissell checked a sales sheet with his mother.

Ronan, an eighth-grader at Fred Tjardes School of Innovation in Greeley, was more than a little excited as he and Megan looked at the evening’s bottom line. Ronan, who’s been practicing origami since he was 3, sold all of his homemade paper origami earrings and necklaces.

Thirty-three items priced between $ 9 and $ 12 earned Ronan and the Tjardes School nearly $ 300.

“I managed to surprise my investors on the quality of the product,” Ronan said. “I learned the more time and effort I put into things, I can surprise people.”

Ronan was one of more than 100 Tjardes students who participated in the school’s Market Night late Friday afternoon and early evening at the school’s 6th Street building, next to Landlord WeldWerks Brewing Company.

GREELEY, CO – MAY 06: Students, parents, community members and faculty walk among the booths during Market Night Friday, May 6, 2022 at Fred Tjardes School of Innovation in Greeley. The 15-year-old school holds a “market night” three times during a school year to allow students to showcase their projects, connected to the trimester’s “learning loop,” or theme. (Alex McIntyre / Staff Photographer)

Tjardes is a Greeley-Evans School District 6 kindergarten through eighth-grade school with the same oversight as other schools in the district. Co-founder and lead collaborator Courtney Luce said the school has the same waivers as a charter school for the “freedom in curriculum and instruction.”

“We wanted the support of the larger district,” said Luce, who as a collaborator is a learning partner with students and not a teacher. “We wanted to answer to an educational body such as the district.”

Tjardes was approved as an Innovation Status School in March 2017 and opened to students the following fall. There are 123 students at the school this year. Students are admitted through a lottery system.

An Innovation Status School receives waivers from the state to allow them to operate differently and with more freedom than other in-district schools, according to District 6.

Innovation schools must comply with state guidelines for public schools and students take state-mandated standardized tests. The school says its instruction is driven by its mission, not testing.

The purpose of Market Night was for the students to raise money for Tjardes while learning about markets – from cyber to farmers markets – along with an education on business, marketing, communication, planning and interpersonal relationships.

Student proposals might lead to a partnership where they work together. Inside of these skills, the projects require the students to write, research and use math with budgets and calculating product demands. The students used currency they created for the night rather than exchanging legal tender.

“And just work ethic,” Luce said.

All the student investment plans have to be approved by adult investors before their products go to market. Luce said in many cases the proposals are not OK’d the first time, forcing the students to rework and refine their plans.

Ronan said he needed about a week to make his jewelry. Fifth-graders Evelynne Gant and Yahira Ruiz-Hernandez made 54 different colored yarn friendship bracelets in one week. Evelynne and Yahira charged $ 4 for each bracelet and $ 6 for two bracelets. Evelynne said they decided to make the bracelets because they had friends who didn’t like metal bracelets or were allergic.

Yahira said she learned about teamwork through the project. Both girls found out about deadlines and allowing themselves enough time to produce a quality product. One of the bracelets fell apart after they hurried to submit it on time.

“Not to rush on the process,” Evelynne said. “The quality of the bracelets matter.”

Market Night was the last event in the 6th Street building, the school’s original location. Tjardes’ lease is expiring with WeldWerks, and the company needs the space, Luce said. Tjardes is relocating to Tobey-Kendel Hall on the campus of the University of Northern Colorado for the 2022-23 school year.

Luce said after a year at Tobey-Kendel, Tjardes will settle into the Jefferson Junior High building on 13th Avenue in 2024.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button