Students in Alison Clinton’s Entrepreneurship class at W.F. West High School are learning skills to create and run their own business and be their own boss. The relatively new program (this is the second year) gives business-minded students an opportunity to be creative and roll up their sleeves to run a business. Last year nine students enrolled in the brand new class at W.F. West. This year it has more than doubled in size with 22 students working to design, create and sell products. The class is part of W.F. West High School’s Career and Technical offerings, which help give students practical world-of-work skills.
Students create designs on tiles, mugs, t-shirts, keychains and more to sell at school events. This winter, students competed in a Skills USA competition in sublimation, a printing process that uses heat to transfer a design to different products. In the spring, students will sell mugs and keychains designed on the school’s laser cutter at the Home and Garden Show.
In addition to making some amazing products, students also learn what it takes to run a successful business, from profit and loss statements to marketing and branding, inventory, and customer service. Students learn how to solve a problem or fill a need or to take an existing product and improve it. “We talk about how a viable business must be a need or a want in the community,” said Clinton, who also teaches photography and knows first-hand the ins and outs of running a successful photography business for 10 years.
“It’s really exciting to see them come up with ideas and troubleshoot solutions,” said Clinton, who wanted to start the class at W.F. West after hearing about something similar at other high schools. “You can start a business at any age,” she said. “Hopefully the skills they learn here will help them be successful business leaders in the future.”