BYRAM-Early on Thursday morning, with shopping lists and calculators in hand, 47 students of the Green Hills School, wheeled their carts into the ShopRite in the Byram Plaza to participate in "Young Consumer Day." The program, sponsored by Ronetco Supermarkets, Inc., operators of ShopRite, has been in effect for more than two years. Designed specifically for the young learner, it was conceived in response to decreasing math and language test scores. Through an innovative "hands-on/minds-on" learning process, the students prepare for several months before their adventure into the supermarket aisles. The third-graders working in teams of two or three are presented with the task of grocery shopping for a family of four while facing two challenges: to provide a nutritionally sound diet and to stay within a $100 budget. While some of the students shop, others visit stations set throughout the store that challenge their mathematical skills, logic, and eye-hand coordination. With names like "No Bologna," which tests the students' knowledge of fractions, and "$1,000 Pyramid," based on the quiz show but with categories such as types of soups and kinds of snacks, the children vie for points which are added to their scores. At the end of their "shopping," the food items were checked out by Ronetco ShopRite cashiers, and the children were evaluated on their purchase. ShopRite associates, Wakefern Food Corporation associates, school personnel, and parents all participated in scoring a portion of the day's activities. Partners Luke and Julian liked "how to do the problem solving." They said they often shop with their parents, and Luke "even sometimes get the stuff that I like." "I think it's great that they can apply what they learn in the classroom in real life," said Victor Scuralli, whose son Ben, took part in the event. "Maybe I can have him do this by himself." "We like hosting this program because it shows parents and students a different view of ShopRite, but we also enjoy teaching them life skills that they can take with them as the get older," said Cathie Filomena, Consumer Affairs Coordinator for Ronetco. Devised by two educators, Howard Herbert, a professor at Ramapo College and former school superintendent, and Steven Megna, a technology teacher at Vernon High School, this program helps students develop critical thinking, communication, character development, ethics, consumer and personal finance skills. Teacher Colleen Kelly summed up the goal of the day: "They worked hard without realizing they were learning; they thought they were playing. It is a benefit that they learn so much that would be difficult to teach within the framework of a classroom. They are learning in a fun way."