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ECHHS Entrepreneurs Develop Confidence and Customers

The EC Occupational Course of Study (OCS) students at East Chapel Hill High School (ECHHS) embarked on a new and exciting initiative this year when they each developed their own businesses through Wildcat Entrepreneurs. Vanessa Diggs, recently retired EC resource teacher, received a Public School Foundation grant to support her vision for the work development students, and the fruits of that vision have positively impacted her students, as well as the wider ECHHS community, throughout the school year.

OCS students at board meeting Diggs encouraged her 16 Wildcat Entrepreneurs to think about their interests and passions, and how those might point toward a product or service. Once they came up with ideas, Diggs helped them each develop business plans by researching what they would need to create the projects. Students then came up with elevator speeches to share with potential financial sponsors at school, at a faculty meeting, and finally at a school board meeting on May 21. When Principal Kenneth Proulx introduced the students to the board, he said, “I’ve been a principal for 19 years, and their project was the most engaging, student-driven, real world experience I’ve ever seen.”

The Entrepreneurs built a strong presence and following at ECHHS by holding Friday sales each week during lunch. One student developed a service for cleaning and repairing athletic cleats, and he noted that he had cleaned Proulx’s golf cleats. Another student produced natural makeup products, and she distributed samples to board members at the meeting. Yet another created specialty coffee drinks. All of the money they have earned this year has been deposited back into an account that will fund next year’s Wildcat Entrepreneurs.

One of the OCS students, senior Alex Martel, identified his passion as anti-gun violence, so he created a business and community service plan to sponsor a Walk-a-Thon at ECHHS on May 24 during fourth period. With the help of his teachers and other students, Martel publicized the event, asking participants to wear orange that day as they walked. Three Physical Education classes committed to join Martel on the track behind the school; more than 75 people honored Martel’s personal commitment during that Friday lunch. His message to the ECHHS community was, “Stand up for what you believe in and never use guns."

OCS walk a thon at East Proulx said, “The entrepreneurship project was a comprehensive opportunity for students to create their own business from beginning to end. Once they had developed their business and produced their product, they marketed and sold to their teachers and peers. Each day that products were on sale hundreds of customers lined up to purchase. I appreciate Dr. Vanessa Diggs and the Public School Foundation for making this all happen.”