SCCHS busi­ness club ap­pre­ci­ates ef­forts of Cham­ber of Com­merce

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Swift Current - BY CINDY LOWE

(This ar­ti­cle was di­rected to Karla Wiens, Mike Ro­gowski and the Swift Cur­rent Cham­ber of Com­merce Board of Di­rec­tors mem­bers)

Please ac­cept this let­ter as a sin­cere thank you for your or­ga­ni­za­tion of the 2nd An­nual Busi­ness Con­nect Ban­quet that was held Novem­ber 19th, 2018 on be­half of the SCCHS Busi­ness stu­dents and ad­vi­sors.

There were 38 stu­dents in at­ten­dance aged 13 to 18 from the Swift Cur­rent Com­pre­hen­sive High School who were able to at­tend this amaz­ing event hosted by the Swift Cur­rent Cham­ber of Com­merce. I have or­ga­nized and fa­cil­i­tated many events with my stu­dents over my 17 years teach­ing ca­reer and this event ranked close to the top. What made this event spe­cial was the in­cred­i­ble num­ber of stu­dents who ben­e­fited from this event and that ev­ery sin­gle stu­dent was thor­oughly en­gaged and par­tic­i­pated in the evening.

They were each tasked with vis­it­ing and net­work­ing with busi­ness peo­ple around the room on their own. I can not tell you how im­por­tant these skills are for our stu­dents to de­velop at this age. Very of­ten stu­dents par­tic­i­pate in events where they watch what is hap­pen­ing at a pre­sen­ta­tion or are on a team where they can sit on the side­lines and not in­volve them­selves as much, but with this event ev­ery sin­gle stu­dent was par­tic­i­pat­ing and learn­ing from the busi­ness lead­ers in the room.

Our stu­dents were "talk­ing" in mini-in­ter­views around the ta­bles, learn­ing how to con­duct them­selves in a pro­fes­sional man­ner, how to visit with an adult on their own (with­out par­ents or teach­ers help­ing them through), and the chance to learn from re­spected busi­ness lead­ers in our com­mu­nity.

The fi­nan­cial com­mit­ment that the busi­ness lead­ers and the Cham­ber put to­wards this event did not go un­no­ticed. Our stu­dents would never have had an op­por­tu­nity to get this kind of men­tor­ship any­where else, so we are grate­ful for the or­ga­ni­za­tion and ef­forts that ev­ery­one in­volved put for­ward to help our stu­dents out. This is a one of a kind event in south­ern Saskatchew­an that shows the true com­mit­ment that our busi­ness com­mu­nity in Swift Cur­rent has to­wards our youth.

You many not re­al­ize the im­pact that this event had on our stu­dents, but I as­sure you it was life chang­ing for some.

Here are some of the sto­ries that this event brought about:

• Last year, we had Grade 9-12 stu­dents at­tend. Two of our stu­dents who were in Grade 9 last year were ex­tremely ner­vous to at­tend the Busi­ness Con­nect Ban­quet 2017. Af­ter it was over, the im­pact of the event mo­ti­vated them to be­come very in­volved in our club ac­tiv­i­ties. Now that they are in Grade 10, we see them tak­ing on chal­lenges, try­ing new things, vol­un­teer­ing in our events, tak­ing lead­er­ship roles and push­ing them­selves to take risks such as speak­ing in front of our group. This year these 2 girls were the stu­dents who in­tro­duced the key­note speaker to the room at Busi­ness Con­nect Ban­quet 2018. If I were to ask them last year if they thought that this was pos­si­ble, they would have prob­a­bly never imag­ined they could do this. They have re­cently at­tended the case com­pe­ti­tion with me in Regina this past week­end and this is all due to the ini­tial start they had with the Busi­ness Con­nect ban­quet last Novem­ber 2017. In ad­di­tion, these two girls were re­cently cho­sen to be a part of a Na­tional Youth Fo­rum in March 2019 in Ot­tawa. I am very ex­cit­ing for their fu­ture and can hon­estly at­tribute this to the first event they at­tended with me last year at Busi­ness Con­nect 2017.

• Men­tor­ship through con­ver­sa­tions at the ta­bles were hap­pen­ing all over the room. Stu­dents are never sure what they are in­ter­ested in what they want to do or what ca­reer path they want to chose. Quite hon­estly the stu­dents don't even know what they don't know?

Through your will­ing­ness to come and spon­sor this event, you have shared your sto­ries, your ex­pe­ri­ences, your ed­u­ca­tion, and the lessons you have learned that will all help a fu­ture gen­er­a­tion.

Some may now want to fol­low your ca­reer, con­sider study­ing agri­cul­ture due to the sto­ries from Pat­ti­son Ag, Ma­trix Solutions and Nutrien, they may be in­spired to be an en­tre­pre­neur through the sto­ries of a busi­ness owner at their ta­ble, think about real es­tate as a ca­reer op­tion, or go and take post­sec­ondary for some­thing that they hadn't con­sid­ered un­til they talked to you.

Your in­flu­ence was far reach­ing with these stu­dents, so please know that we greatly ap­pre­ci­ate the time you spent talk­ing to the four groups of stu­dents through all four rounds.

• You may not even re­al­ize the im­pact you have had on these stu­dents per­sonal lives.We have stu­dents who have strug­gle with self-es­teem and con­fi­dence is­sues and this event was an ex­tremely big deal for them.

They pushed through their ner­vous­ness and real­ized they can do this, they can put them­selves out there, they can work through a chal­leng­ing and some­what un­com­fort­able sit­u­a­tion where they are put on the hot seat, hav­ing to speak with a re­spected busi­ness com­mu­nity mem­ber. Con­vers­ing with a busi­ness pro­fes­sional is a very in­tim­i­dat­ing sit­u­a­tion for many stu­dents and this event was a big deal where many over­came some se­ri­ous per­sonal hur­dles.

• In­ter­view skills were de­vel­oped all over the room where the stu­dents shared this sto­ries and learned how to make "small talk". Chat­ting with strangers over a meal is a fun­da­men­tal life skills for all of us, yet one of the most dif­fi­cult things for peo­ple to do... es­pe­cially many adults! Our stu­dents are get­ting the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence this at a young age through the Busi­ness Con­nect Ban­quet, with the hopes of im­prov­ing their pub­lic speak­ing skills each time they par­tic­i­pate in this type of event.

The next time they go for an in­ter­view, at your busi­ness or else­where, please know that you have helped that stu­dent be­come a lit­tle more suc­cess­ful at speak­ing in the in­ter­view and in­ter­act­ing with cus­tomers and co­work­ers. These are pos­i­tives for all of us to cel­e­brate.

• I can also speak to the im­pact on our younger stu­dents. This event over the past two years has in­spired a whole gen­er­a­tion of young stu­dent lead­ers at SCCHS. We have al­most 60 paid mem­bers signed up for the Busi­ness club this year and over 25 stu­dents are in Grade 9. I also have many Grade 8 stu­dents who can't wait to join Busi­ness Club next year. These stu­dents are learn­ing so many skills at an early age; they are try­ing de­bate and case com­pe­ti­tions, are vol­un­teer­ing for time­keeper roles and com­mu­nity events, they are try­ing speech work­shops and at­tend­ing the Busi­ness Fo­rum. They are ex­cited about learn­ing about Busi­ness and this event at the start of the year is a big fac­tor in the suc­cess in our younger stu­dents. These ben­e­fits will be long last­ing while they are at our school over the next 4-5 years as these stu­dents take lead­er­ship roles within in their class­rooms, the SLC, their sports teams and other ar­eas of their life. We see these stu­dents tak­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties such as na­tional and in­ter­na­tional de­bate events, and case com­pe­ti­tions around the prov­ince. Start­ing with these types of ex­pe­ri­ences at a young age sets them up for suc­cess ear­lier in life down the road as they en­ter adult­hood. We see greater like­li­hood of grad­u­a­tion, pur­suit of a ca­reer and post-sec­ondary and hope­fully greater fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy and pros­per­ity in their fu­ture. I be­lieve in plant­ing these seeds young in or­der for greater fu­ture suc­cess.

• Our busi­ness pro­gram is alive and en­er­gized at SCCHS. There is an en­thu­si­asm for learn­ing about busi­ness here in our school- we had 105 stu­dents en­roll in just Ac­count­ing 10 last year alone and our Busi­ness Club, which started with 6 mem­bers in May 2015, now has over 35 mem­bers reg­u­larly at­tend our Tues­day Lunch meet­ings.

This can be linked to the im­por­tance of busi­ness ed­u­ca­tion in the com­mu­nity through events such as the Busi­ness Con­nect Ban­quet. You are help­ing to show our stu­dents that there is a bright fu­ture in busi­ness, re­gard­less of the in­dus­try. We have stu­dents who want to be doc­tors, en­gi­neers, lawyers, ac­coun­tants, trades­peo­ple, work in health care and many still don't know what they want to do.

What we do know is that all of these stu­dents need to be en­trepreneur­ial to be suc­cess­ful in their fu­ture. The world is chang­ing, it is full of dis­rup­tions and tech­nol­ogy is mov­ing at a fast pace. Ed­u­ca­tion that in­volves ex­pe­ri­en­tial learn­ing, sup­port from men­tors such as your­selves and com­mu­nity sup­port is what will help our stu­dents be suc­cess­ful in their fu­tures. This is some­thing that is im­por­tant for all of us! The fu­ture our SCCHS stu­dents looks very bright and we are grate­ful for com­mu­nity partners such as your­selves to con­tinue to help us ed­u­cate our stu­dents.

We have asked our stu­dents for feed­back on the event and sto­ries about what they learned and we will be for­ward­ing you the re­sults once they are com­piled. In ad­di­tion, ev­ery­one felt the food was amaz­ing, the decor was beau­ti­ful, and the en­vi­ron­ment was pro­fes­sional, and ex­cit­ing.

Thank you again for your ef­forts to or­ga­nize, fund and co­or­di­nate the Busi­ness Con­nect Ban­quet for our stu­dents. The ex­pe­ri­ence was in­valu­able and we look for­ward to Busi­ness Con­nect Ban­quet 2019!

(Cindy Lowe is the Busi­ness Ed­u­ca­tion, Skills & Ap­pren­tice­ship Teacher at Swift Cur­rent Com­pre­hen­sive High School.)

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