School Extra by Bob Zimmerman

Fifteen new Wright County business’s held a Business Expo last week in Monticello. Specialty apparel for horse show competitors, baked goods, waffles on a stick, custom made iron and wood furniture, beach cleaning services, website design, and clothing alterations were some of the services being offered by the diverse group of entrepreneurs that have one thing in common: they are all Wright County high school students taking the Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities (CEO) class in which starting a business is a requirement.

Comments from the students included “my favorite class ever,” “it’s been a wonderful class,” and “there is nowhere else to get this type of education,” show the effectiveness of the hands on style of learning that defines the course. Their well thought out business plans also demonstrates the power of the community based model.

The CEO concept started on 2008 in Illinois, and this is the third year Wright Technical Center has offered the year-long 2 credit high school elective. The first class had seven students from Maple Lake, last year there were three, and this year Katie Treadwell is the only Maple Lake student taking the class.

The class is an elective but students must submit a written request for admission, obtain letters of recommendation, and complete an entrepreneurial profile as part of the selection process. The class meets from 7:30 til 9:00 am weekday mornings and a large part of class time is taken up with visits to area businesses and meeting with other entrepreneurs. This year’s class learned from 72 business visits and speakers; students are also paired with a local business mentor.

Katie Treadwell enrolled in the class for several reasons. She thought it would be helpful for her career planning, she wanted to learn more about area businesses, and her family encouraged her to give it a try. She used her experience as a very successful competitor at Saddle Seat horse shows to create her business. There is a certain style of clothing preferred by riders in this type of event and Katie’s business, Chip’s Classics, “will bling and sell Saddle Seat ties to use while showing horses with the opportunity to expand into Western Pleasure jackets, chaps, and hats.” She is hoping to use her business income towards educational costs after high school.

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