DO YOU have a good business idea? Do you know what skills are required to turn it into a success story? Have you the confidence, ambition and conviction to make it work?
These are some of the questions that Veronica O'Hanlon, Business and Enterprise teacher at Castleisland Community College, asks her transition year class every year. The response has invariably been extremely enthusiastic with some really innovative and practical projects have developed.
So much so that the community college has earned a well-deserved reputation for excellence in the County Enterprise Board's annual schools competition. This is an initiative to encourage second level students to set up and run their own business.
"This year is no different as the Transition Year students have engaged in a variety of business ventures. They included the production of a traditional music CD; the production and sale of milkshakes, cupcakes and truffles; the manufacture of greeting cards and card holders, the production of Christmas logs; the selling of advertising for the schools Newsletter. One young student decided she would write a book," said deputy principal, Colm Kirwan.
"The class has been a hive of activity for months as creative ideas became reality. Thoughtful and precise planning was required and skills of communication, presentation, team work, financial analysis and risk taking were developed by the students. Knowledge and skills were acquired from other subjects - Home Economics, languages, Woodwork, Metalwork, Art and Music.
As in every business only three projects could be selected to represent the school this year. Caitlin Nolan wrote a book , 'Simply Short Stories' and they all relate to the experiences and emotions of young girls. The creative and linguistic talents were already in place. What was required were the acumen and skills that would transform the concept into a realistic business proposition. That she has done. As we go to print we hear of a Post Primary school in another town who have ordered multiple copies of her book to be used as an essential learning asset in Junior English classes.
"There are many others who have demonstrated the same attributes. Amber Ring O'Donoghue created her own business simply called 'Cupcakes.' She has designed a project to bake, distribute and sell her own, very individualised product that has already been tested in the market, within and outside the school with a very positive and encouraging response. There are so many ingredients in the mix with Amber's product to make it another success story.
Meghan Healy-Brennan and Erin O'Connor have established their own business 'Truffleicious' -one which has manufactured, marketed and sold its own truffles that have been a best seller already within the school. It's amazing how creative, innovative, practical and focused young people can be. One thing is for sure - it augurs well for the future of the country," said an impressed Mr. Kirwan. "There are so many other enterprising stories to be told. Under the direction of Teresa Landers , seven TY students travelled to Cork to participate in the Munster 'Build a Bank' competition. How appropriate! It is an AIB schools competition where students learn the essentials of banking. The students plan and organise the entire venture. A manager, assistant manager, tellers, auditors are appointed and the bank opens for business at lunchtime every Monday. They must also select a theme. Appropriately they chose 'The Gathering' and they operated banks in different countries - the USA, Australia etc. They dressed in native dress, select and play music of their adopted country and trade in their currency. It integrated their Business and Enterprise with Maths, Geography and Music. Last week in Cork they made a power point presentation in front of 30 other schools and a panel of adjudicators. They will be presented with special certificates later this month.
James McAuliffe and Niall Durkin were selected to do a once in a life- time work experience for the week in the RTE studios in Donnybrook where they studied every aspect of television.
At the same time, Aidan Joy took a group of TY Design and Communication Graphic students to the University of Limerick to compete in a Formula 1 competition. They had to design a computer model of a Formula 1 car; make a scaled model in their Engineering class and produce a timber model in their Construction class.
The car then had to race around a specially built course. The students also had a special presentation exhibition stand and were required to make a power point presentation. They were the only Kerry school selected to participate which is an outstanding achievement in its own way.
Innovation and Enterprise are all the go in Castleisland Community College," the upbeat Mr. Kirwan concluded.