How a neighborhood helped Kan. highschool college students reach enterprise

Roar Store staff, from left: Ella Rice, website manager; Kinzlee Wallace, office manager; Caylyn Pfizenmaier, advertising manager; Ty Pfizenmaier, production manager; Clara Edwards, project manager; Rhonda Gierhan, CEO and trainer. (Submitted)

Clay Center High School Junior

According to a 2019 study by H&R Block, the average American uses only 37% of the information they learn after graduating from high school.

Fortunately, I’m confident that thanks to an incredible teacher at Clay Center Community High School and the support of some incredible community members, I’ll be using way over 37%.

My classmates and I at CCCHS are fortunate enough to be tutored by Rhonda Gierhan, who leads our Business Essentials class. As an educator with 34 years of experience, Ms. Gierhan takes on the task of ensuring that her students learn skills and have lifelong educational experience.

Ms. Gierhan knows that students often learn best when they have practical experience. Because of this, she challenged our class not only to read and write about the business, but also to learn the pros and cons of doing business by starting and running her own business.

So that’s what we did. After much discussion, our class noticed a void in the local market and decided to open a clothing store to represent our school. And so the Roar Store was born.

From billing to invoicing, designing and producing, our class manages every aspect of our business under the supervision of Ms. Gierhan to provide liquor clothing to our students, parents and the community. We also extend to other CCCHS classes such as B. Web design for our website and digital media for the production of commercials, and operate our social media.

When we started our small business, we started from scratch. Since we had no experience in the clothing business, we wanted to learn anything and everything we could. At this point, we reached out to community members for advice and support.

While our team is incredibly passionate and dedicated to our business, it would have been difficult to get it off the ground without the help of members of the Clay Center and the expanded small business community.

If you want to support students in your community who are passionate about business, here are ways they have helped us:

Share your expertise

Supporting high schoolers who have the potential to be future leaders will only benefit your community. Many industries tend to be exclusive and competitive, but The Roar Store has received incredible support from other small businesses in our community. Our local print shop, Gate 9 Graphics, played a fundamental role in launching our business. Our friends at Gate 9 were kind enough to share their years of experience and gave us incredible insights into tools and equipment that we could use and steer in the right direction.

The point here is to see young entrepreneurs not as competition but as partners. The more you do to get your industry and community known, the better off you two will be!

Support unconventional ideas and programs

Our class would not have been able to start our business without an “OK” from the administrators of our school. Our class curriculum is deviating from the “norm” and it would have been easy for administrators to reject Ms. Gierhan’s idea and insist that we follow a traditional classroom. Without the opportunity to take a risk and try something new, our class would never have learned the invaluable skills to start and run a business. We can use these talents long after graduation.

Look for ways to give back

The “big breakthrough” for our small company came when we applied for the Pure Imagination Scholarship from the Stahl Family Small Business Fund. The Stahl Family Small Business Fund was founded by Michigan’s Stahls, a world-class innovator in decorating and fitting out custom garments. Stahls’ is an industry leader today, but also has extensive small business experience, having started the family business in a Detroit garage in 1932.

The scholarship program granted us an entry-level steel hot press, hot printing materials, and a full year of one-to-one tuition from industry experts at Stahls.

A scholarship program is just an incredible opportunity for established companies who are thriving to support those who are just starting out in their industry.

You can also support business-minded high school students by making donations to educational programs or by volunteering as a coach or mentor in the industry.

Republished with permission of the Kansas Reflector. Kinzlee Wallace is a junior at Clay Center Community High School and an executive in the Future Business Leaders of America at CCCHS.

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