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Students sharpen business skills for 'Shark Tank' competition

"Shark Tank" is coming to a stage in Alexandria — but not ABC's version of the program.

Instead, Alexandria Area High School students will soon have the opportunity to present projects they've been working on with local businesses, while also having the chance to win scholarship money.

The high school's Business Center for Advanced Professional Studies course, also known as CAPS, works to immerse students in real-life career experiences by partnering with local businesses. This year it has partnered with Geneva Capital to create a "Shark Tank" event next week in which five groups of three students each will participate.

"Shark Tank" is a television show in which hopeful entrepreneurs present ideas to five potential investors. Any one of the five can choose to invest. If more than one would like to, a bidding war may take place.

For the high school's version of "Shark Tank," judges from Geneva Capital will choose one group for a $3,000 academic scholarship to be split among students in the group.

Groups will present their projects, which focus on improving customer experience in local businesses, says business and marketing teacher Eric Hartmann.

"For example, one of the groups worked with Elden's and gave 250 surveys for customers at Elden's and other people at other grocery stores to kind of see the things they wanted and how Elden's could improve," Hartmann said.

Senior Sidney Enninga says the assignment has been more beneficial than simply writing a paper.

"It's really cool to get Geneva Capital's feedback on our projects and to be able to work one-on-one with business professionals instead of just typing a paper," she said.

Since mid-October, Enninga's group has been working with the Chamber of Commerce to help them promote doing business locally.

"By being high school students, we're still able to have a really big impact in our community," Enninga said. "We're super excited (about the project). We've been spending all of our extra time on it."

In addition to Elden's and the chamber, other local businesses student groups have partnered with include Viking Bank, the Alexandria Blizzard and Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center.

The Shark Tank competition will take place from 8:30 to 11 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 16 in the Performing Arts Center at the high school. The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments and desserts will follow the competition.

For more information, a video can be found at

Beth Leipholtz

Beth is a reporter at the Echo Press. She graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in May 2015 with a degree in Communication and Hispanic Studies. Journalism has always been her passion, but she also enjoys blogging and graphic design. In her spare time, she's most likely at Crossfit or at home with her boyfriend and three dogs.

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