July 7, 2014

'Madison Avenue' comes to Willsboro

WILLSBORO — Willsboro sixth-graders combined their collective intellect, donned professional attire and presented advertising campaigns to promote a local business.

Utilizing a rubric, the presentations were judged by Johnny’s Family Smokehouse & Sports Bar co-proprietor Tricia Sheehan, WCS business teacher Brian White, chef John Walker of Johnny’s and School Board member Bruce Hale.

The rubric included professional attributes, such as speaking and appearance; originality of theme; and how convincing the newspaper ad, billboard, TV commercial and brochure were in promoting the client’s business.


“I have been doing a similar advertising project for a number of years,” sixth-grade teacher Tara Valachovic said.

“However, I used to create a fake product and company, which the students advertised. The students enjoyed the project, and it was certainly a learning experience, but it didn’t tie in with their real world.

“I wanted them to go behind the scenes of a local business to give them a fresh perspective and a real-world application.”

She said students suggested they work with Johnny’s, which is located in Willsboro.

“Trisha Sheehan, the owner, is actually one of my former students, so I was very comfortable contacting her, and she was really eager to participate.”


The process involved the students learning about advertising history, propaganda and regulations.

They then decided on the “job” positions they would like and applied for them. Agency names were created, and tasks were divided.

The class visited Johnny’s to get a feel for the business and made pizza as part of the experience.

Once the portfolio was created, the young advertising entrepreneurs practiced their presentations.


“We have been working on implementing Common Core and have used the state modules in ELA (English Language Arts),” Valachovic said.

“After working with many of the so-called, ‘new’ standards, I realized that they really aren’t all that different from standards in the past. There has been a push for higher-level thinking for years now.

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