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Students becoming future entrepreneurs

A CHANCE TO LEARN — The Future Entrepreneurs organization at Indian Creek Middle School shows students how to succeed in business and raise money from their projects. Helping mentor Charles Lingerfelt serve sno-cones to students at lunch is club member Benjamin Smith.

MINGO JUNCTION — Seventh- and eighth-graders at Indian Creek Middle School are gaining business experience through fundraising endeavors as part of the Future Entrepreneurs program.

About 30 students are participating this year — the largest group yet — and are bringing ideas to life to make money for class field trips. The initiative is currently in its sixth year and began through a Community Connections grant written by community member Jeff Greco and Indian Creek Superintendent T.C. Chappelear. Greco, who serves as pastor of Crossroads Christian Church, first implemented the program to help students at Indian Creek High School raise money for college, but is currently utilized at ICMS as a mechanism to finance trips to Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh.

“We have four mentors, but let the kids pick the plan,” he said. “This program is about six years old and the Community Connections grant was designed by Ohio to put mentors with students. Chappelear and I wrote the grant together and that’s what started the program. We wanted to help kids live out their potential by surrounding them with mentors who are successful in business.”

Greco, Roy Arbogast, Charles Lingerfelt and Mark Prichard meet each Wednesday in the school library to plan projects with the boys and girls. Each group, which ranges from five to eight students, is embarking on different projects with Greco’s team selling custom-printed T-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs and bags; Arbogast’s group making hand-crafted CREEK tingZ jewelry and pet rocks; Lingerfelt’s team peddling hot cocoa, cotton candy and sno-cones during lunch; and Prichard’s team preparing ads to promote area businesses.

Greco said his team filled orders for Christmas presents and also sells them at games and at local churches, adding that they work well together and enjoy creating something new. Arbogast said his students take orders, make their products and deliver them to customers the next week, much like an actual business.

“The mentoring program is meant to develop relationships with the kids and training them on basic business tips such as how to market and sell products,” Lingerfelt commented, adding that his team has steadily sold their wares at lunchtime.

Meanwhile, Prichard is using his marketing background to help his team promote area establishments. The group developed a survey and questioned more than 500 teens in West Virginia and Ohio about their favorite stomping grounds, while plans are to sell advertising to the top vote-getters.

“We formed a mini-advertising agency and created a survey that went out to five different middle schools,” Prichard explained.

Sites were selected in the Steubenville-Wheeling area and middle school students answered queries in at least 50 different business categories. Schools ranged from ICMS to Brooke, Bridge Street and St. Clairsville and businesses included eateries and entertainment venues. The goal is to produce advertising packages and approach the selected businesses to purchase ads for such promotions as online and through streaming services. Prichard will utilize his company’s services and donate his commission up to $2,400 to the group to defray their trip expenses.

“They are going to learn about communication, research, sales and creative skills,” he continued. “I wanted us to do something outside the box.”

Participants said they were learning some valuable lessons.

“I like this group because it gives me experience, so when I get older I can get a job,” said seventh-grader Knowledge Wright.

“It’s fun and I learn a lot about business,” added eighth-grader Zoli Taylor, who said it help to improve communication skills.

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