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MIDDLETON — The business education and engineering-technology departments at Middleton High School are partnering on a joint business to make products and market them.

Called Cardinal Enterprise, the student-run business manages all aspects of production, from budgeting to ordering materials to distribution, through a class with the same name.

“I’ve had an interest in all facets of business and manufacturing,” junior Sean Bertalot said about taking the class. “This is more than a simulation.”

Two of the products are ready to buy, including a wooden puzzle cube that is selling for $10. An aluminum hitch cover with the standard Cardinal mascot costs $35, or $40 for customized lettering. In addition, they will sell a portable red cedar table with a clever folding design for $45 starting Wednesday, and a flip-top grill with a stainless steel grate should be ready by Friday for $125. Products can be ordered at https://tinyurl.com/ycrl7zbf.

Profits will go back into the class for future expenses, not counting some money from grill sales, which will be donated to Middleton Outreach Ministry.

Students had to apply for the semester-long class, which is being piloted this year with plans of making it a year-long class next year. About 40 students are currently enrolled and the class is spread out among several classrooms and shop space. Most of the students are juniors and seniors.

The class is taught by Eric Wheeler and Doug Johnson, who are engineering-technology teachers, and Cherie Hellenbrand, school-to-career coordinator who teaches in the business marketing and information technology department.

Wheeler spearheaded the effort after learning at a conference about a similar program called Cardinal Manufacturing in the Eleva-Strum School District. Wheeler likes how students who might be drawn to one discipline are working with students in other areas, and he has seen them taking ownership in the class.

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“It’s been (an) exciting experience seeing students working together, (and) when we’ve run into problems, seeing them adapt and kind of overcome those problems,” Wheeler said.

Hellenbrand said the real-life experience has included learning to meet deadlines, and that there is no “late policy” when a customer is waiting for you.

Senior Anna Zirbes, who has been working on the grills, said she came into the class hoping to get more across-the-board experience in other aspects of the business but figures she might have a part in shaping the class for the future.

Junior Broderick Hebert, who is part of the metals team and came up with the idea of the hitch cover, said he has learned how difficult it is to work with aluminum and how the required special bits meant altering profits in the short term.

The students originally targeted their marketing toward students but now realize they have to look at other audiences, said junior Susannah Murdoch, who thought the class would expand on what she has learned in the Future Business Leaders of America organization. She has been working on the company’s website.

“We learn from mistakes we make and fix them on the spot,” said junior Joey Culp, who took the class to expand his knowledge beyond his focus on woods.

Culp has been working with senior Anders Crisp on the wooden tables, which saw three design changes. Crisp said the first one wasn’t sound and the second one proved to be too expensive; it was intended to be used indoors and would have been made with cherry and walnut.

“When our design came up for approval, we got laughed at,” he said.

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