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Newton students tout program Richland County district is considering

Richland County School District is considering partnering with Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship's CEO Program for high-school students.

Newton Community High School launched the program three years ago. Amy Tarr is the National Community Director and facilitates Jasper CEO.

Richland County School District is considering partnering with Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship’s CEO Program for high-school students.

Newton Community High School launched the program three years ago. Amy Tarr is the National Community Director and facilitates Jasper CEO.

CEO is helping young people to see their hometowns as fertile ground for opportunity rather than as dead ends.

NCHS senior Ty Litzelman participated in CEO last year. He shared, “It definitely showed how much we actually have in a small town. Going into the program, honestly a lot of us didn’t know what was actually in Newton. ... You just see how much work is put into this town.”

CEO started in Effingham. It is a yearlong accredited entrepreneurship course. Through public/private partnerships, CEO allows businesses and organizations to connect with the young people who will determine the future of the community.

“CEO has been amazing for Jasper County. The businesses have loved it. The parents, the school district has loved it. Most importantly, the kids have just been wowed and awed, and they come out in May as a totally different person. They’re so much more mature and business-ready,” Tarr said.

Investors and other members of the business community provide funding, meeting space, business tours, and one-on-one mentoring.

Students visit numerous area businesses, learn from multiple guest speakers, participate in a business class, and write business plans.

CEO emphasizes real-life, real-world experiences.

NCHS senior Kamille Kerner participated in CEO last year. Kerner shared, “When I came into this class, I learned that being in a business, you have to work on a board with many other personalities. So you have to kind of change and be balanced, and I think that really helped me learn who I was,” Kerner said.

By the end of the second semester, students have completed the rigorous process of starting up their very own legal and viable businesses. Students exhibit their businesses in a trade show held at the end of the school year.

In daily activities, CEO students build skills in problem solving, teamwork, self-motivation, responsibility, higher-order thinking, communication, and inquiry.

“CEO helped me be comfortable with being uncomfortable. We were in a lot of situations where we were doing things that we had never done before,” Litzelman said.

Graduates of the program receive preference in hiring, college admission, and scholarships.

“We always tell them they’re 10 years ahead of their like-aged peers, so that’s pretty awesome. So the fact that some other communities in this area want this for their kids is pretty awesome, and it returns big dividends.”

In response to interest from surrounding communities, CEO began expanding in 2012. This fall, CEO will conduct over 40 classes in five states.

Tarr is excited about the potential of CEO expanding to Richland County.

“It is a long-term investment, but I know here in Jasper County, we’re already seeing some great things come from our previous students. We definitely, definitely are ready to have some more neighbors in our CEO family. I can’t wait!” Tarr said.

By: Amanda Blain
Source: Olney Daily Mail

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