Exton Chamber members hear from DASD Business students
One of the strongest partnerships the Downingtown Area School District has is with the Exton Chamber of Commerce. Members of the Chamber serve as mentors and have created internships and job shadowing opportunities for our students. On Tuesday, September 20. 2016 the Chamber hosted a luncheon featuring six of our DASD high school students. Olivia Hunt, Kianna Ly, Shell Sarda and Selia Koss from DHS East and Max Minnier from DHS West were the special guest speakers at the luncheon. Dominic Hesel of DHS East was the day's videographer.
For several years, the Exton Chamber's Business and Education subgroup has worked with DASD’s high school business departments to help students get a hands-on look at the business world. Several years ago, with a $500 start-up loan from Franklin Mint Credit Union and a group of dedicated business leaders in our community volunteering to serve as mentors, students at DHS East and DHS West created a company, decided on a product to sell, ordered the product, marketed it and sold it. Each year they made enough money from their efforts to repay the loan and donate an amount to a local charity.
Senior Shell Sarda told the luncheon gathering that as COO last year of East’s corporation, Cougar Corps, he experienced the excitement of raising over $3500 for their chosen charity, but deeply felt the challenges his team faced when a carnival they had planned had to be cancelled due to unexpected price points and "haphazard" planning.
"But even that failed carnival has been helpful", said Shell. "It helped us all learn about the decision-making process and the importance of working as a team. We learned, as Walt Disney once said, to 'quit talking and begin doing'".
Kiana Ly, a junior at DHS East, attended the Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week (PFEW) this summer on a scholarship given by the Exton Chamber. PFEW brings students together for a week of internships, speeches and business challenges. Kiana spoke of the challenges she had to face that week: meeting new people, sharing responsibilities with strangers and putting those strangers to work as a strong team. Kianna had set her college goal on obtaining a major in a science field, but following her week at PFEW, she now feels she will also add business classes to her schedule.
Max Minnier was a freshman when he became involved in the entrepreneurial program at DHS West last year. He was CFO of the group that decided to create "Whippet Wear" for their project. The group produced two items, wrist bands and lanyards. Whippet Wear held a Dodge Ball tournament to raise even more money for their chosen charity. He too shared his appreciation for learning the business basics and got a laugh from the audience when he noted that selling lanyards to his age group was possible, but wristbands were not.
DHS East students Olivia Hunt and Selia Koss spoke about their experiences working with an Exton Chamber member as interns. Selia has helped the Chamber with their annual Golf outing. Olivia has interned for Brenda March of March Forward Consulting as her social media expert. Olivia would like to become a screen writer because of her love of writing and Ms. March has given her a chance to use those writing skills as the firm's blogger.
Also present was Noelle Wiggins, an alumna of the DASD/Exton Business Education Partnerships. Noelle, a 2014 DHS East graduate, had attended one of the first Career Nights organized by DHS East College & Career Center Advisor Christine Wick. She so admired a presentation by one of the speakers, Maureen Bails, that she sent Ms. Bails a thank you note. This gesture was so appreciated that Ms. Bails called her, had a conversation with her and quickly invited her to intern with her for her consulting firm. Noelle went on from DHS East to attend Drexel where she has been selected to work in Drexel's School of Entrepreneurships. Noelle also runs two businesses that she created.
Teacher Kristina Hunt told of another alumnus from the program. 2015 DHS East graduate Austin LeMalefant. Austin just opened a branch of Chocolate Moonshine, a gourmet chocolate store, at the King of Prussia Mall. In addition to attending college, Austin tries to work every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday afternoon in his store, as well as all day on Saturday and Sunday. In his spare time, he attends trade shows and networks with other area business owners as he tries to increase interest in his first - but not last - store.
In a letter Austin wrote to Ms. Hunt, Austin writes, "I would greatly appreciate it if you could put me in contact with your replacement for E-ship. I think I could share a lot of information that I learned and really connect with the classes as somebody who was sitting in their seat six months ago."
Thank you to the Exton Chamber and their members for helping our students "Get in, Get out and Get Involved", the motto of the program.