PRSD high school stu­dents tak­ing on en­trepreneur­ship

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Alberta - BY JAMIE RIEGER— jrieger@prairiepos­

High school stu­dents in Prairie Rose School Divi­sion are tak­ing part in a pi­lot project be­tween PRSD and the Medicine Hat Col­lege En­tre­pre­neur De­vel­op­ment Cen­tre (EDC) where they are learn­ing about how to start and run their own busi­nesses.

Christie Wil­son, EDC project of­fi­cer and Jen Ker­slake, man­ager, fund de­vel­op­ment for the EDC, pro­vided to trustees at their Nov. 6 meet­ing an over­view of the project that in­volves the divi­sion's four high schools.

"The idea started to roll this sum­mer," said Derek Beck, PRSD di­rec­tor of trans­porta­tion, who was in­stru­men­tal in get­ting things started.

Wil­son vis­its the area high schools, South Cen­tral in Oyen, Ea­gle Butte High School at Dun­more, Se­na­tor Ger­shaw in Bow Is­land and Fore­most School, once a week, teach­ing them about the ins and outs of start­ing a busi­ness, in­clud­ing how to make a suc­cess­ful busi­ness plan.

"Stu­dents go through the busi­ness plan­ning process and pitch their busi­ness idea to judges. Each school has teams work­ing on busi­ness mod­els," said Wil­son, who is cur­rently work­ing with 73 stu­dents.

As stu­dents work on their projects, cen­tral of­fice has been busy pre­par­ing a stu­dent store for the sell­ing of their mer­chan­dise.

"You have to see what the stu­dent store looks like. Our space is ready and the board has pro­vided money for it," said su­per­in­ten­dent Roger Clarke. "The stu­dents are work­ing through this busi­ness plan cy­cle and we are look­ing at what can be done at our schools, our four high schools."

Any prof­its made would go back to the schools, Clarke noted.

"This is not about Prairie Rose mak­ing money. It's about the stu­dents learn­ing. Any money will go back to the schools," he said.

Be­sides, pro­vid­ing the stu­dents with knowl­edge on en­trepreneur­ship, part of the rea­son­ing for the project is to en­cour­age stu­dents from ru­ral ar­eas to at­tend the Medicine Hat Col­lege after com­plet­ing high school.

"Your stu­dents are our fu­ture stu­dents," said Ker­slake, adding that MHC is see­ing de­clin­ing en­roll­ment from ru­ral ar­eas.

"We found stu­dents aren't go­ing to post-se­condary schools or are go­ing to schools else­where," she said. It's vi­tal we get into the high school class­rooms."

The great­est de­cline, she noted, is with the 18-24 age group.

"Ev­ery 18 months, we do a scan and found the de­cline for that age group. They are try­ing to fig­ure things out for them­selves and we are try­ing to find how to get them back in," she said. "Time and ef­fort is needed to pro­mote en­trepreneur­ship in our ru­ral ar­eas."

The MHC En­tre­pre­neur De­vel­op­ment Cen­tre started in 2011 with a part­ner­ship be­tween the col­lege, RBC, and JMH&CO as a place where stu­dents could launch their busi­ness ideas with the guid­ance of busi­ness pro­fes­sion­als.

"At the col­lege, the en­tre­pre­neur cen­tre is an op­tion for any stu­dent and the ones who are there are there be­cause they want to be," said Ker­slake. "We also have an ad­vi­sory coun­cil, made up of peo­ple from the busi­ness com­mu­nity who men­tor the stu­dents."

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