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Students Learn Business Skills in High School Entrepreneurship Program

August 27, 2016

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 Students at Enid High School are learning how to be entrepreneurs, thanks to a national nonprofit organization.
Youth Entrepreneurs, founded in 1991 by Charles Koch Foundation, provides business and entrepreneurial education across the country.
Enid Public Schools is the first district in the state to use the program, and students can enroll in the class for hands-on learning experiences, program central regional director Phoebe Bachura said.
“Building on the success we’ve seen in Kansas, Missouri and Georgia, we’re thrilled to expand into Oklahoma — Enid for now and potentially other districts across the state — and give students in Enid an opportunity that will open new doors and give them a different outlook on what is possible,” she said. 
EPS Superintendent of Secondary Education Douglas Stafford said the district is excited to bring this program to Enid.
“We’ve seen a push in the district for entrepreneurship, and we thought it would be a great way to encourage kids and expose them to what it takes to be an entrepreneur,” he said. “We talk about college and career readiness — this is a real applicable program that allows them to get the most of the opportunity.”
The foundation funds the entire program, Stafford said.
“The only thing they wanted from us was to identify a teacher who had some experience in that,” he said.
Thomas Rowe, a geometry teacher at EHS, was a civil engineer in California and ran a business in Enid before teaching, so he was a natural fit.
In Rowe’s class, students will build business plans to help people and make a profit at the same time, Rowe said.
“It’s an activity-based class, and we are looking for opportunities to make a profit,” he said. “We will work on business plans with the students. The goal is, by the end of the year, they have a business plan and they can start their own business and be their own entrepreneurs.”
The class began discussing products last week, and Rowe said a couple of students already have a product in mind.
The students have to come up with real products, and Youth Entrepreneurs will front the resources to buy the products wholesale, and the students can sell them at retail prices, Rowe said. 
“Our primary market is the student body and teachers here,” Rowe said of the high school. “We have about 2,00 people here on campus, so that’s our target.”
The students will sell their products at market days later in the year, he said.
Tila Rippke, a junior in Rowe’s class, said she and her business partner have a plan.
“We are going to do a T-shirt,” she said. “We are thinking we could have third- through fifth-graders draw pictures and we will have them printed on the T-shirts. We will sell them around the school… and no matter how much money we make, a percentage will go to the YWCA for kids who are abused.”
Rippke said they will sell the shirts for a reasonable price.
“You have to keep in mind how much high schoolers and teachers can afford and what they’re willing to pay,” she said. 
Rowe said the class does more than give students a taste of entrepreneurship — it improves the students themselves.
“I have students in multiple classes who have not done any work in the past, but because of this class, now I see they’re actually learning that they need to do things to be more motivated,” he said. 
This article was originally published in The Enid News and Eagle® August 27, 2016 and is republished here for Koch Fertilizer with the express written permission of All Rights Reserved. Reproduction Prohibited by Law.