F-M students churn up ideas for local ice cream shop

Thanks to the ingenuity and hard work of Fayetteville-Manlius middle school students, a local ice cream shop has a new flavor on its menu.

As part of an English Language Arts project, dozens of Eagle Hill Middle School eighth-grade students recently spent time researching, developing and pitching ideas for new ice cream flavors to local sweet shop Gabrielle Chocolates and Ice Cream.

Under the advisement of teachers Tom Bersani and Emily Baickle and school librarian Meghan Scott, the project was primarily designed to help students sharpen their figurative, descriptive and persuasive writing skills, but expanded into a project-based experience that teaches facets of business management and entrepreneurship. The project was implemented for the first time last year and aligns with the district’s goal of helping students form supportive community partnerships.

Gabrielle Chocolates and Ice Cream owner Gabrielle Regan and Matt Monroe, the shop’s business manager, volunteered to serve again this year as project mentors. To help launch the assignment, Monroe visited Eagle Hill where he talked to eighth-graders about starting and running a business. He discussed the basics, like drawing up a business plan, determining overhead costs and product feasibility, goal-setting and more. He also discussed marketing strategies and the importance of consumer demand.

Following Monroe’s in-class presentation, the student-groups were tasked with devising an ice cream flavor that appeals to local community members and has profit potential.

Monroe encouraged students to consider factors like Upstate New York’s changing seasons – which affect product availability and consumer appeal – and the cost of utensils, paper products and labor, when developing their unique ice cream flavor.

Students spent about a month independently working on the project, including pricing out potential ingredients at local grocery and specialty shops. Once a recipe was conceived, the eighth-graders produced advertising pitches for their products.

Regan and her leadership team evaluated more than 100 entries from Eagle Hill students. During a special Nov. 26 assembly, the chocolatier and Monroe visited the F-M middle school again to reveal the winning flavor.

“I know a lot of you want to become entrepreneurs and business owners,” Monroe said during the assembly. “This project was designed help you become aware of what running a business is all about.”

Monroe and Regan announced Grandma’s Apple Pecan Pie – a sweet, savory and holiday-inspired flavor – as the project’s winning flavor. Created by Lillian Fowler, the frosty treat features apple pie spices, chunks of local apples, pecans and a golden caramel swirl.

“This is a flavor we feel like we can sell forever,” Monroe told students. “We’d love to keep it around long enough for you to be able to share it with your children.”

Before the assembly concluded, eighth-grade students had the opportunity to watch Lillian’s advertising pitch and taste the new flavor, which the Gabrielle’s team produced at one of its ice cream shops and transported to Eagle Hill in large pails.

The special student-crafted flavor is available by the scoop or pint at Gabrielle Chocolates and Ice Cream locations in Manlius and Cazenovia. Last year’s winning flavor – Crazy Cranberry Crunch – is available, too.

This is an image of students showing two people a sign

Eagle Hill Middle School students present a token of appreciation to Gabrielle Chocolates and Ice Cream owner Gabrielle Regan and Matt Monroe, the shop’s business manager.

This is an image of a student holding an ice cream

Eagle Hill Middle School eighth-grade student Lillian Fowler smiles for a photo with the ice cream she created, Grandma’s Apple Pecan Pie.

The moments captured in the following video were filmed during the Nov. 26 ice cream flavor unveiling assembly at Eagle Hill Middle School.