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CEO program continues to impress many

Actor John Houseman won an Oscar for his performance as Professor Kingsfield in 1973’s “The Paper Chase,” which chronicles the struggles of first-year law students in Kingsfield’s contract law class.

In thinking about the Whiteside Area Career Center’s successful Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities program, we couldn’t help but recall a famous line uttered by Houseman’s character.

“You come in here with a skull full of mush, and you leave thinking like a lawyer.”

Skulls full of mush? That’s over the top, of course.

But students who take the CEO class leave thinking like entrepreneurs.

And that, we believe, is a good thing.

Even if CEO students don’t carry on with the businesses they started while members of the class, they take away important skills.

They’ve learned to be super dynamic.

They shake hands with newcomers and look them in the eyes.

They can carry on intelligent conversations.

And more.

They’ve learned to think outside the box.

They’ve stretched their limits.

They have given something new a try.

For the 23 juniors and seniors who hail from Sterling, Dixon, Rock Falls, Newman, Prophetstown, Milledgeville, Oregon and Eastland high schools, the class hasn’t been easy. Nothing worthwhile is, after all.

But they will leave it with the confidence that they started and ran their own businesses. And that is an experience that can pay dividends in many ways.

What kind of businesses, you ask?

One business, The Butterfly Effect, combats human trafficking by selling shirts, hats and sweatshirts with the slogan “Person not Possession.” The owner, Anastasia Matias, will donate 20 percent of the proceeds to an organization fighting human trafficking,

(Matias is thinking not only like an entrepreneur, but like a humanitarian, too. Good for her!)

Other businesses deal with homemade pies, crepes, fresh and fried curds, modified clothing, designer caps, skin care products, decals, cellphone cases, bracelets, a theater arts summer camp for young girls, custom signs, a traveling soccer team, an ultimate Frisbee league, homemade mustard, cosmetic bags, mobile ice stand, handyman service, and succulents in decorated pots.

The students and their businesses were on display Tuesday and Wednesday during a trade show at Northland Mall in Sterling.

We have long been fans of the CEO program.

We are pleased that the Whiteside Area Career Center and instructor Le Hartman have given area students a great opportunity to learn from local business leaders and through hands-on experience.

A core principle of business is, “Give the people what they want, and they’ll buy it.” High schoolers have learned that, and more, from the class.

In no way do we believe CEO students entered the class with skulls full of mush.

But we believe they will leave thinking like entrepreneurial business leaders.

And that is an impressive accomplishment.

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