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Pranav Arora


Entrepreneurs in training Summer academy shows high school students the ropes of business

By LINDA HALLStaff WriterWOOSTER DISTRICT — Entrepreneurs in training learned the ropes from a steady stream of mentors during the district’s first-ever Youth Entrepreneurship Summer Academy — complete with a banner hanging proudly on the front wall of Wooster High School.Local businesses could soon see competition from the new kids on the block on Oldman Road.Academy participants put the final touches on their own business plans on Thursday at the high school.”We’re doing Web design,” said academy participant Robbie Chipka.Their team already has two customers, announced his project partner, Pranav Arora, clients for whom they are going to craft Web pages.The summer academy triggered “the idea of starting a business and carrying it on,” Arora said.Saxophone players Ayana Wright and Nico H. Lara, along with another team member, Debbie Knapp, who has been singing for 12 years, put together an online company called Music Tips and Tricks.It will incorporate helpful hints, as its name indicates, but also “how to get better at playing instruments and helping people read music,” Wright said, and it will also include videotapes and interviews.Part of it will be written like a blog, Knapp said.Open free to incoming freshmen, the academy was operated with a grant from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation.”This is really a good experience for them,” said Wooster’s director of teaching and learning, Peggy Shafer, who helped initiate the program.Shafer enthusiastically gave an overview of the week on Thursday, just ahead of Friday’s culminating Business Plan Presentation Dinner, to be celebrated in the Wooster High School Commons with a banquet and student speakers outlining the plans they put together during the week-long camp.Dennis and Paula Tafoya of Muddy Waters Cafe shared their experience in building a business with academy participants, while serving them breakfast and making everybody a smoothie, Shafer said.Rita Shisler, Shisler’s Cheese House, “brought goodie bags for everyone,” and startled young entrepreneurs with the fact, “She sells a ton of Swiss cheese every day,” Shafer said.Marlene Boyer, head of the high school family and consumer science department and adviser for the high school’s E-Club, spoke to the group, as did Andrew Vaeth, one of the founders of ExpenseWire.On Thursday morning, Glenda Lehman Ervin and Sue Crawford talked about sales and marketing. “(They) have a complete curriculum they have aligned at our request,” Shafer said.In working on their own projects, “Most of (the students) are either pairing up or working in groups of three, or four, or five; it just depends on who they are and what they’re interested in,” Shafer said.Each of the business people who was a guest of the academy helped students with developing their plans, Shafer said, adding, “Kids asked questions and learned a lot from them. These kids are so talented.”Some of the ideas that had percolated by Thursday afternoon involved buying and selling online and setting up a business to sell Wooster sportswear to other students.Reporter Linda Hall can be reached at 330-264-1125, Ext. 2230, or e-mail