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Macoupin CEO program off to a great start

In the nearly two months since the first classroom session, the Macoupin CEO program has already had 12 guest speakers and students have planned their first group business venture.

“Slowly and methodically, we are putting the students through experiences that are transforming them from normal high school students into seasoned business professionals,” said facilitator Pete Visintin, adding that classroom sessions are conducted like business meetings. “We have an agenda we stick to which consists of business/life lessons and the activities surrounding the planning and execution of three different real-life businesses that students must launch this school year. Every day is intense!”

Visintin said that for him, the biggest highlight of the program so far has been watching the students’ transformations. “They now conduct themselves with the same high level of professionalism as all of the business people we meet,” he said.

For the students, however, the high points have been team-building activities done outside of the classroom, such as a trip to Busch Stadium in St. Louis, where they met with an executive panel from the business side of the St. Louis Cardinals organization.

So far, guest speakers who have visited the classroom: Scott Reichmann of BarberMurphey Group, Jennifer Alepra of United Community Bank (retail), Staci McDanials of United Community Bank (loan services), John Sawyer of Sawyer Engineering, State Sen. Andy Manar, retired McDonald’s owner Jim Salske, Stephanie Geisler of Steph’s Photography, Cheryl Canavan of Carrollton Bank (farm loans), sales professional Mike Rossetto, grant funding specialist Dan Fisher, CEO director Cheryl Mitchell and Brock Wilkerson of Draxxon Drone and UAV Services.

The students’ focus recently has been on planning their first business venture, a pork chop/burger cookout to be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 15, at Ace Hardware in Staunton. Visintin said that project was chosen because the students needed to do a smaller event quickly to raise money for class dress shirts and seed money for launching their class and individual businesses. “The students had to do everything to plan, organize and soon execute the cookout,” Visintin said. “All they were told is if they wanted class shirts and seed money to launch their class business, they would have to find a way to raise it themselves. They came up with the idea, booked the venue, talked to the necessary vendors, came up with the necessary equipment, wrote the press releases, designed the flyers, and everything else that will have to happen for the event to go smoothly.”

The students are also focused on preparing for launching their class business, which will take place this winter. At the end of the school year, they will host a trade show, at which they will launch their personal businesses.

The program is currently seeking individuals from the county to be mentors for the students. To learn more about or become involved in the Macoupin CEO program, visit or

Source: Macoupin County Enquirer-Democrat

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