Nine year-old Ezra LePage-Linch furrowed his brow as he sized up potential customers walking by.
On display, ready to sell, were a number of his homemade, hand-painted dinosaur trinkets: dinosaurs ornaments, dinosaur bookends and yes — an ultra-rare, one-of-a-kind dinosaur candle.
LePage-Linch and his classmates at the Lupine Experiential School in Vancouver held their annual holiday market at the Vancouver Vineyard Church, at which students sell homemade goods and art as the culminating event of their economics unit.
Students donate at least half of their earnings to charity organizations that they had chosen earlier in the year.
This year, which was the third edition of the Lupine market, students chose Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center and Portland-based Family Dogs New Life Shelter as destinations for the event’s proceeds. The Lupine Experiential School was founded in 2019 by Jackie Taylor, who also works as a teacher and helped coordinate the market.
Seventh-grader Roman Ferguson, 13, displayed his collection of rock magnets, which were hand-decorated with googly eyes, Santa hats and other holiday accoutrements.
Fourth-grader Jad Eid, 9, was selling his own art: huge drawings inspired by technology and his favorite mobile games like Geometry Dash, all done by hand with pencil and colored markers.
“I feel like using paint was a bit too easy,” Eid said, laughing.
Other students sold baked goods, custom clothing, hand soaps and non-dinosaur candles as proud parents looked on.
The economics unit leading up to the event taught Lupine students in grades K through eight everything from coin values, bartering and trading to more advanced concepts like understanding the stock market and developing naming strategies for businesses.
“This is what all students do to apply their learning,” Taylor said. “They do the creation of the projects at home, but other design and art ideas are happening in the classroom. There’s a real blending of learning at school and working creatively at home.”
LePage-Linch, who has participated in the market each year since the school’s foundation, said he was particularly passionate about this year’s charities because he loves both trees and animals.
“I feel good that we are supporting the charities, and I love learning about what other kids are selling,” he said.
Megan Selvig, Opal Creek’s program coordinator, said she only found out about the market a few days ago and is elated to have developed such a partnership. The organization helps to protect the Opal Creek wilderness and the Jawbone Flats in central Oregon, an area that was burned in last year’s Beachie Creek fire.
Selvig heard of the event from parents of students who had visited the site when they were younger.
“It’s so creative, not just the economic learning part of it but jut the teaching students about charitable giving at a young age,” Selvig said. “We get a lot of donors, but this one really means the most. It’s inspiring.”