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High school CEO program launching in Shelby County

With its roots in Effingham County, the popular CEO program for high school students has spread across the state and beyond since it began in 2008. But it never took up in Shelby County.

Until now.

"It's everywhere but Shelby County it seems," said Anna Kiley, Shelby County's economic development director.

After raising $25,000 in October, the county will finally be home to a CEO class starting next school year. CEO, or Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities, is a high school class funded by local investors that teaches students how to run a successful business.

The class will benefit the county, Kiley said, because it'll help keep its hardworking, bright students from moving elsewhere for work. Each week in the CEO class students will spend time at a local company, building relationships with employers in Shelby County.

"This enables students to look at their hometown as an opportunity, and not a dead-end," said Kiley. "This is an opportunity for them to get plugged into their community."

Stewardson-Strasburg High School Principal Justin Deters said some of Shelby County's youth leaves before they know about jobs close to home.

"I think it's great getting the CEO class," he said. "Shelby County has so much to offer, and the kids will be introduced to that. They usually don't see that before they leave for college."

Nick Burton, a senior at Stew-Stras High School, said he tried to get into Effingham County's CEO class last school year after hearing good things from students there.

But he was told that the class, as a county-led program, could only support Effingham County students.

In spring, Burton will graduate and won't experience the CEO program next school year. But his request to be in the program helped CEO gain momentum in Shelby County.

"I'm definitely disappointed in not being able to participate," Burton said. "But I'm glad I was able to help, and I'm glad other students will have the opportunity."

With funding for its first year set, the Shelby County CEO board will focus on informing students and parents about what CEO is. An informational meeting will be held 7 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Visitor's Center in Shelbyville.

Kiley said the CEO board will be accepting applications from sophomores and juniors at all of the county's high schools. Hardworking, respectful students should apply, she said. The board is also looking for volunteer business leaders to act as facilitators.

Kevin Bernson, of Shelby Electric Cooperative, said his company has long known of CEO's successes elsewhere in the state. So they donated once Kiley and others started pushing for it to be in Shelby County.

"We think it's a great program," he said. "With everything I've seen, heard, and read about it, it's really something special."

Written By: Stan Polanski
Source: Shelbyville Daily Union

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