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    (THOMAS WALLNER | THE GRAHAM LEADER) A student from the Graham Junior High School Hot Chocolicious team The Chocoholics hands a cup of hot chocolate to a customer during the 2019 event on the Graham downtown square.

Chamber Hot Chocolicious Competition heating up the square in December

Six teams from Graham Junior High School and three from Open Door Christian School will face off in the Graham Chamber of Commerce Hot Chocolicious competition in December, benefiting area nonprofit organizations. The event has junior high teams build a hot chocolate business and stand and display their projects for sale alongside the Christmas Stroll and Lighted Parade.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, last year the program was changed to the Hot Shopolicious program, an event where sixth grade teams from GJHS purchased products from local retailers and sold them in an online storefront. With Hot Chocolicious returning this year, teams will display their booth to sell their products during the night of the Christmas Stroll and Lighted Parade which will be held on the Graham downtown square Thursday, Dec. 2.

Originally, the Hot Chocolicious program was for any sixth, seventh or eighth grade student at GJHS, but by the third year there were so many applications turned in it was unfeasible to accommodate the program, according to Graham Chamber of Commerce CEO Krisa De La Cruz. The chamber is now partnered with the sixth grade GJHS Builders Club students as well as incorporating students from ODCS Junior High School. She said the training program for the Hot Chocolicious Competition is extensive to prepare the student teams.

“Really it starts with a full-day, or two half-day, trainings where we walk through building you brand, creating your budget, designing a logo, your team name, selecting your nonprofit and learning about food handling safety and marketing options (such as) how to market effectively, how to build your stand, customer service and securing your loans,” De La Cruz said. “It is cram packed with information. Various facilitators, industry professionals from the community come in and teach those sessions. It’s a lot of fun. The students learn so much. And then after that we give them a business plan template that they take back and they fill out on their own as a team and submit that back to us and we provide copies of that to our local bankers who then meet with the students and the students get to pitch their business plan. Kind of like Shark Tank, so we call it our Shark Bank Tank. And then the banks choose whether or not they get their requested loan amount and ask them really good questions about their price per cup, or their break even point, or cost of their supplies, so on and so forth. It is a really good learning lesson for the students. It’s also good practice for public speaking and confidence.”

For the rest of the story, see the Nov. 20 edition of The Graham Leader.

The Graham Leader

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