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An update on the Shelby County CEO class: 'The best class you can take in high school'

In an office at 131 S. Morgan in Shelbyville this week, a class of high school students made final preparations for their sold-out fundraiser.

They'd spent weeks planning a murder mystery dinner for 250, largely on their own.

"They crushed it," said Anna Kiley, facilitator of the class.

"The sales team went out every day for three weeks getting sponsorships," said Gavin Stockdale, a Shelbyville High School sudent.

The students are part of the first Shelby County CEO class, which meets in the mornings at the county's economic development office. Dressed in business clothes and eager to shake hands, the students spent their first semester touring businesses, meeting owners, and focusing on personal development.

On Monday, the students will start creating a business of their own. Money raised from the murder mystery dinner will help provide the seed money for each venture.

Already, the students swear by the CEO program, saying there's a noticeable difference between students in the program and those not. "It's the clothes, handshake, and smile," they say.

"It's life-changing," Thomas Quick said. "It never comes out of your mind even when you leave class. A lot of high school students are tired. This is a reason to wake up."

"It's the best class you can take in high school," added Stockdale.

The Shelby County students joined for different reasons — some for figuring out a business career, others, like Braden Young, for retooling themselves. 

Brooklyn Rozner said she joined CEO to get an idea of what type of business she'd one day like to be involved with.

"I thought this would steer me," she said. "We saw so many different businesses. I didn't know all the different roles there are."

As the county's economic development director, Kiley said the class is helpful because it gives her connections to future business owners.

"I have so much access that I wouldn't have had in the past," she said.

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Stan can be reached at or 217-774-2161 ext. 1.

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