By Jeremy Appel
Alberta Newspaper Group
High school students from the Prairie Rose School Division had the opportunity Friday to pitch their business ideas they’ve been working on the past semester to a panel of judges at Medicine Hat College.
Participants came from Foremost, Senator Gershaw, Eagle Butte and Oyen Schools.
Christie Wilson, MHC’s entrepreneurship co-ordinator, says she traveled to each of the schools every week in the fall to assist students in refining their business ideas in anticipation of the big event.
But, she emphasized, the students came up with the original ideas themselves.
“Every week I’ve seen a huge progression — the amount of creativity, innovation (and) open thinking … in the classroom really has amazed me,” said Wilson.
She also highlighted the importance of helping rural students sharpen their entrepreneurial abilities.
“Some of these kids have never even spoken in front of a group and the work we did in classrooms was around that,” Wilson said. “A big thing is having students prepare for the new economy. If you don’t think entrepreneurial, it’s going to be really hard to be successful and perform.”
Jordan Kurtzweg, a Grade 10 student at Foremost School, pitched a business selling homemade mustard. He was joined by his peers Jessica Butterwick, Taylnn Simanton and Heidi Walsh. The group was awarded the Peoples Choice and Judges Choice awards at the event.
His family’s farm grows mustard, so Kurtzweg figured it would be a good opportunity to explore, describing his group’s product as a “high-quality, farm-to-table product.”
Kurtzweg said Wilson was particularly helpful in getting the students to think about the financial side of things.
“She’s encouraged us to think lots about the numbers, because we’re all about ideas,” he said. “She’s been really supportive of everything we’ve done, with leading us to the right conclusions.”
Trista Mitchell, along with Charity Rice, Alvino Klassen and Axel Eichelbaum, of Senator Gershaw were part of a group that pitched a business selling customized jars accompanied by customized cookie ingredients inside.
“We design the jar and are able to laser-engrave anything you want on its lid. Everything inside is all the wet ingredients you need, and then you go home and add all the dry ingredients,” Mitchell said, also crediting Wilson for her advisory role.
“We did a lot of research (and) asked a lot of advice. Christie and our teacher, Mr. McClung, helped us a lot with ideas, (providing) everything you need to start a business.”