Inspiring community interaction

EVART — Innovation and creativity are the key components to Evart High School’s relatively new entrepreneurial curriculum, as students continue to open their own businesses with the increasing support of community members and mentors.

When the curriculum was instituted in the fall of last year, the school had high hopes for its students. A vision of learning, development and application marked the overall concept of the program.

Now, more than a year after its first initiation, the class has grown to encompass a reciprocated involvement in the community.

“My goal is to stop sending these students away from Evart,” said Jay Wallace, the teacher of the class. “Right now they’re working on school products, but when they move into their next projects, they can do what they want.”

The class, if anything, is certainly not a simple simulation of the business world. Students create their own products, market them, monitor profits and costs and perform other tasks that entrepreneurs must complete on a daily basis.

Almost the entire class is a hands-on experience, whether students are building their products, creating invoices or researching the local market. Half of the profits the students make go into their student account, with the other half going back into the class for continued development.

In addition, this year has prompted the interest of at least 12 local business representatives, many of whom have talked to the class about their own experiences in the market.

“This is really only possible because of the support from the community,” Wallace said.

Students agree that the community support has inspired and motivated them to continue their learning process in entrepreneurship, most notably in the process of creating their own business.

“I actually got my idea from someone who came in to talk,” said Paige Boyd, a sophomore. “I like being able to have our own ideas for the business.”

“There are lots of opportunities in the class,” said Gabe Mooney, a senior who is working with his group to create a machine that will create oils for scented candles and other things.

One of Mooney’s group members, sophomore Josh Phelps, agreed.

“I love this class, it’s awesome,” he said. “You get to talk to a lot of entrepreneurs.”

Students who took the class last year have experienced a positive change in their own expectations as well, as the curriculum continues to extend its reach into the community.

“I sold lanyards last year,” said Jaillin Drake, a senior. “I’m thinking about doing plaques for buck mounts this year.”

As the class continues to grow and exceed expectations, students look forward to supporting their school with sales of rental seat cushions and stands filled with hand-crafted products at sporting events, along with eventually creating their own products. A new website also is in the works, through which the class will sell their products online.

The class also plans on allowing more community entrepreneurs to speak with the students. Wallace hopes to have mentors from 30 businesses in all take interest in the class and its projects.

“The students’ individual businesses definitely don’t have to stop here,” said Wallace, “They can continue on after they have graduated.”