Thanks to a partnership between a local sweet shop and Fayetteville-Manlius middle school entrepreneurs, there’s a new ice cream flavor in town.
In November, more than 80 Eagle Hill Middle School eighth-grade students as part of an English Language Arts project 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 eighth-grade teacher Rebecca Gay and school librarian Meghan Scott, the project was initially devised to help students sharpen their figurative, descriptive and persuasive writing skills, but expanded into a project-based experience that taught facets of business management and entrepreneurship and helped students form supportive community partnerships, which is one of the district’s overarching priorities for the 2018-19 school year.
“This is our first year doing this specific project and it was an absolute success,” Mrs. Gay said. “Students took ownership of it and really saw it through. We are planning to offer it again next year with all eighth-grade students.”
Gabrielle Chocolates and Ice Cream owner Gabrielle Regan and Matt Monroe, the shop’s business manager, volunteered as project mentors. To help launch the assignment, Mr. 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 Mr. Monroe’s presentation, the student-groups were given their marching orders: devise an ice cream flavor that could please the sweet-craving masses of the local community and also turn a profit.
Mr. 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.
Eighth-graders spent about three weeks performing project research. They worked during ELA classes, after school in the library, and spent some time outside of school hours pricing out potential ingredients at local grocery and specialty shops. Once a recipe was conceived, students wrote and filmed advertising pitches for their products.
The pitches were evaluated by Mrs. Regan and her leadership team. During a special Nov. 20 assembly, the chocolatier and Mr. Monroe visited Eagle Hill again to reveal the winning flavor to the eighth-grade audience.
“You guys came up with fantastic ideas,” Mr. Monroe told students. “While there were many flavors we liked – and several we plan to keep in our back pocket – one really stood out to us.”
Mr. Monroe and Mrs. Regan announced Crazy Cranberry Crunch – a sweet, savory and holiday-inspired flavor – as the project’s top contestant. Created by Macy Gallagher and Michael Surowiec, the frosty treat features vanilla ice cream swirled with tangy cranberry sauce and studded with white chocolate chunks, granola, and Craisins.
“We think this flavor is a perfect match for our stores this time of year and something community members will really enjoy,” Mr. Monroe said. “It also embodies exactly what the project called for – to design something feasible and appealing.”
Before the assembly concluded, students had the opportunity to watch Macy and Michael’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.
For a limited time, the special student-crafted flavor is available by the scoop or pint at Gabrielle Chocolates and Ice Cream locations in Manlius and Cazenovia.
The images below were captured during the Nov. 20 ice cream social at Eagle Hill Middle School.