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New bill could help Illinois students prepare for life after graduation

State Representative Sue Scherer is working to help Illinois students prepare for life after graduation, especially those who may not be heading to college.

House Bill 2868 would develop a work-based learning curriculum to help students network with local businesses to learn skills outside of a classroom. Christian County has a similar program set up.

The Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunity or “CEO” Program is designed to give high school students an opportunity to work and learn outside of the classroom alongside local businesses.

“Communities have to work with the schools to try to educate our children, you know. Not everyone is going to go to college,” Taylorville’s Mayor Bruce Barry, who is one of over 45 investors funding CEO, said.

The class meets every Monday morning through Friday at a local business in Christian County.

“It was an excellent opportunity to look at trying to have students reinvest back in their own community,” CEO Mentor Brent DeMichael said.

Students have to build two businesses as their class projects.

J.I. McDowell owns Angelo’s Pizza in Taylorville and it is his second year mentoring students in this program.

“It makes them excited to work with real-life entrepreneurs like myself,” McDowell said. “We work with budgets, we work with advertising, you know, we just don't serve food. There's several aspects to a business that people don't realize what we do.”

Those involved in the CEO program hope other schools have similar success with a similar program.

So far, House Bill 2686 has passed committee and now awaits a full House vote.

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