The Tolland High School chapter of DECA was founded at the start of the school year, but the ambitious group of business-minded students are already eager to get to work in school and the Tolland community.
"DECA is a great way to get hands-on experience with the business world," said the group's Chairman of the Leadership Committee Hunter Muhlhauser. "It's a way to present your ideas to people and to make something out of it, to follow through."
The 26 members of the club have written by-laws and are ready to start working on business ideas. At the moment, the club and advisor Lynne Bridge are talking with administrators to try to open a school store at the end of each school day.
"The students would do inventory, stock the store, figure out finances, products and would man the counter," Bridge said of the idea. The students added that the store could provide snacks and drinks to students waiting an hour at the end of classes for sports to begin.
THS had a school store when the high school was in the current middle school building, Bridge said, but one has not been opened since block scheduling has been implemented in the district.
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However, students are already learning that even the best of ideas have hurdles in their way. Bridge explained that the administration and school board first have to determine if any of the school's federal funding for healthy school meals could be affected if the store were to sell food to students.
While those questions are being answered, the students are still pursuing a number of other projects. They will take part in the DECA idea challenge, which asks chapters to take an everyday household item and think of another use for it, which they then must promote. The THS club is also teaming up to enter the DECA virtual business challenge which offers scholarships up to $10,000 for winners.
But beyond online events, the THS DECA chapter also wants to learn from Tolland's own business success stories. The students said they would love to have local business owners stop in for a Q&A with the club.
Muhlhauser said that he is looking forward to brainstorming with his peers and any other business mentors who stop in, in the true spirit of entrepreneurship.
"Business is all about upper-level thinking," he said of what draws him to the club. "It engulfs a lot of subjects. You can pull from a lot of subject areas into a mixing pot."
For more information on the THS DECA chapter, visit the group's Facebook page.
DECA has chapters in thousands of high schools, colleges and universities nation-wide. Visit the organization's website for more information.