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Beanie Baby Challenge Builds Confidence for Future Entrepreneurs

students on stage at Business and Entrepreneurship Pathway event

Last week students in the Business Academy at Jefferson and Guilford high schools participated in a pilot event for the Business and Entrepreneurship Pathway.

Students in the pathway take a class called Virtual Enterprise International (VEI), which allows them to participate in running a virtual business. One of the first things they learn is how to make a successful elevator pitch.

Students were given a Beanie Baby, asked to make up their animal's backstory, and then make a pitch to their peers about why their animal was the best. Some of the stories the students came up with were hilarious, and it was great to watch them have fun with the task.

Dutch Hinck, VEI instructor at Jefferson, said the following:

My proud moment was when students that wouldn't talk about themselves in front of a class of 29 peers got up with a couple classmates to talk in front of four classes, administration and the VEI representative about a Beanie Baby they just met.

Melanie is a church mouse in class and wouldn't, even when bribed, introduce herself to the class. Yesterday she got up, introduced herself and told us about her elephant. I couldn't hold back my smile when she came off the stage, she told me, ‘There. I did it.' She sure did – and survived. Yesterday's event was the beginning for a lot of students that needed a push.

In addition to the pitches, students started the day hearing from the CEO of the YMCA of Rock River Valley, Brent Pentenburg. He urged students to reflect on the importance of character and the importance of making bold, good choices. He called four students to the stage to participate in an activity to help get the point across. Students who participated were each awarded a $500 scholarship from the YMCA to the college or post-secondary program of their choice. These students lived the value of character and demonstrated humility while stepping out of their comfort zones.

Headshot of Bridget French

Bridget French

Bridget French was born and raised in Rockford and is a graduate of Auburn High School. She is the Rockford Public Schools Executive Director of College and Career Readiness, overseeing high school Academies, career and technical education, and middle and high school counselors. She is the mother of two sons, one in RPS 205, and one at NIU.

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