SCCHS business club appreciates efforts of Chamber of Commerce
(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.)