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2018-2019 Union County CEO Program Underway

While most high school students are thinking about school supplies, classes and extracurricular activities, CEO students of Union County are thinking about what it looks like to step into the business world and life after high school.

On July 31, the new CEO class of 2019 and their parents met with facilitator Kathy Bryan and some of the CEO board members at Anna-Jonesboro National Bank to begin the fourth CEO program year, along with 42 CEO communities across the Midwest.

The members of the new class include:

Olivia Schroeder, Cobden High School. Elle Mason, Cobden High School.

Zach O’Neal, Dongola High School. Connor Jerolds, Anna-Jonesboro Community High School.

Jackson Laster, A-JCHS. Zach Griffin, A-JCHS. Gabe Thompson, Shawnee High School at Wolf Lake.

Maddie Bundren, Cobden High School. Amanda Smith, Cobden High School. Katie Charles, Shawnee High School.

The summer orientation event, hosted by Stephanie Cox, assistant vice president of Anna-Jonesboro National Bank, was just the first in a series of steps to help cultivate real life skills in the community’s young people and to enter them into a national network of high caliber, young leaders.

“I enjoyed working with Kathy Bryan and board members to give the students and parents a mini-site visit to see what the students will be experiencing throughout the school year. It was a very enjoyable evening, and I wish the best to the CEO Class of 2019,” Cox said.

“CEO” stands for Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities. It is a year-long, experiential learning-based course that uses community relationships to provide an overview of business processes and development for junior and seniors in high schools.   

The Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship is the organization that supports communities across the United States as they build and grow CEO programs.

Throughout the program year, students from all four public high schools in Union County will get up early to attend their CEO program at a local business before their school day starts.

With a daily schedule from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., students visit local businesses, learn from guest speakers, participate in operating a class business, write a business plan, and, from concept to reality, build their own functioning business.

The business interactions they practice and see in action each day in CEO are similar to the things they will see in life after high school. 

Practicing these techniques builds important 21st century skills, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, responsibility, and self-motivation.

Ultimately, our goal is to prepare young people to enter into life after high school in a unique and tangible way. 

The goal is to prepare the students with a strong network in their community, a wealth of business knowledge and the skills necessary to better face the future.

Along the way, one of the goals also is to allow the students to participate in the experience of a lifetime.

CEO classes are open to the community. To learn more about the program, visit the program’s Facebook page or its website,, to contact a facilitator.

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