Home Education and Careers Padua Academy students experience work on design, sales pitches through entrepreneurship class

Padua Academy students experience work on design, sales pitches through entrepreneurship class

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WILMINGTON — A group of students at Padua Academy is putting their work in the school’s new class in entrepreneurship into action, and it has already paid off.

The class is a full-year dual-enrollment course offered in partnership with the University of Delaware, giving students the opportunity to earn three college credits, said Bethann Higley, who teaches business education at Padua. It is an honors-level course that Padua added to enhance its business offerings, she continued.

Part of the class, called EntreX — entrepreneurial experience — was a virtual “Shark Tank”-like competition between several of the schools that participate. On Oct. 15, Padua joined with students from Saint Mark’s High School, Ursuline Academy and a school in New Jersey to pitch their ideas about recycling to a panel at the University of Delaware. The Delaware Solid Waste Authority was a sponsor of the conference.

After all of the teams had presented their ideas, the team of Cara Quinlan, Maggie Morris, Caitlin Suter and Naya Offor were named the winners. The host of the virtual conference said their idea to increase awareness and participation in recycling had the best combination of feasibility, growth potential and wow factor.

“Our idea was an app that basically was a whole schedule of your township’s recycling collection. We were going to have games to interact with the young ones, and articles for the older people who could read them and find out why they were important,” Suter said.

Quinlan added that the app would have features designed to appeal to various age groups.

“We have a game in the app for the young kids and articles for people who didn’t have smartphones,” she said.

The groups from Padua held an internal competition, with Higley selecting which one would represent the school at the virtual conference. Offor said they found out the topic a week before the competition, and they spent the time brainstorming, coming up with ideas that included decorating recycling bins before settling on the app.

Suter said part of the entrepreneurship class involves presenting ideas to each other on a regular basis, so that part of the EntreX conference was not too difficult. Offor said she is used to public speaking, “but I hadn’t done it in a while, so I was pretty nervous coming up here.”

Suter said not being the first school to go helped calm her nerves. Part of the conference included an interview with a young entrepreneur, and some of the advice she gave resonated with the Padua group.

“Like the speaker said, you just have to have confidence. And I feel like we walked up there with confidence in our idea that it was a good idea, and we presented it with our confidence,” Morris said.

The class will receive $250 for taking first place, and Higley asked the girls what they would like to use the money for. Opinion was split between a couch for their classroom and a pizza party.

Suter said they could get the couch first, then spend the rest on pizza.

“$250 is a lot of pizza,” Quinlan added.

The winning team moves on to a larger event in February, the Diamond Challenge. It will have teams from several states participating.

“You can win a lot of money to start your idea,” she said.

Higley said the class “cultivates the development of an entrepreneurial mindset and develops the skills necessary for identifying new opportunities and solving real-world problems.” They also work on skills such as problem-solving, leadership, evidence-based decision-making, communication and teamwork, she added.