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JHS classes celebrate Entrepreneurship Week

Students in the JHS entrepreneurship class recently visited Apol's Harley Davidson in Alexandria to learn the ins and outs of owning a business.

February 21-28, the Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education will sponsor the annual National Entrepreneurship Week.

The observance was established by the U.S. Congress in 2006 to celebrate the heritage of entrepreneurship in America and new opportunities for a new generation.

Economic leaders and education scholars are calling for an increase in initiative, self-regulation, critical thinking, and lifelong learning skills among young people to meet the needs of the growing knowledge economy.

Jefferson High School (JHS) students have an opportunity to enhance these skills by taking an entrepreneurship class, offered in grades 10-12.

Students learn what it takes to become an entrepreneur. They also learn about land acquisition, zoning, business development, marketing strategies, forms of organization, management and finance.

The final project of this semester-long class is to develop a business plan and present it to local bankers.

Last week, students toured Apol's Harley Davidson in Alexandria. Owner Lonnie Apol explained the site selection, building design, organization of the corporation, business units within the company, surveillance systems and start-up costs.

This week, Chris Odio of Subway will visit the class to discuss franchises. Students will also take part in a video teleconference with Matt Scholz of 3M who invented Scotchcast Casting Tape.

Future speakers include Katie Jerde of Tastefully Simple, who will discuss hiring and firing practices, and Jeff Patience of State Bank and Trust, who will talk about securing financing.

Wendy Watts, teacher of the JHS entrepreneurship class, believes in using the community as a classroom.

"The Alexandria community is extremely supportive of educating our students, not only with classroom activities but the annual career fair, career mentorship and work seminar students," she said. "Business professionals willingly give of their time and talents. We are so fortunate to have this kind of support."

Nathan Blese, a JHS senior and member of the entrepreneurship class, has dreams of owning his own business.

"I took accounting and it was really easy for me," he said. "In the future I want to get a CPA license and start my own little business doing taxes and accounting for people."

Blese noted that during the Apol's tour he was surprised to learn how much it cost to purchase land and construct the building.

He noted that the students also learned about why the building was constructed with a peaked roofline (so it has stronger visibility from the interstate), and about how the business is set up a certain way to qualify for tax breaks.

"It gave me perspective on what kind of business I'd like to run and helped me gain perspective on all different kinds of businesses," Blese said.

Rochelle Michels, also a JHS senior, said she's always wanted to own her own business. Last year she was required to create her own business model in her graphic design class, and that gave her a new idea.

"It lit up a whole new opportunity for me," she said. "I had this vision of creating my own business, and decided I'd really like to own my own nightclub."

Originally, Michels dreamed of owning her own hair salon and getting a degree in massage therapy and cosmetology.

"I'm kind of independent," she said of wanting to own her own business. "Ever since this opportunity opened up to do this entrepreneurship class, it's been all about the night club. That's my passion now."

Like Blese, Michels said she was surprised at the costs in putting up a new building, and said she learned a lot from the Apol's tour, including information on business risks, tax incentives, etc.

The Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education is a national organization composed of more than 100 agencies and institutions supporting entrepreneurship education as a lifelong learning process.