When Palatine High School student Yash Syal enrolled in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy as a sophomore, he didn't know what to expect.
With an overall interest in business, Syal figured the YEA! Program was going to be an extracurricular course to prepare him for a more advanced level of study.
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It didn't take long for him to figure out it was much more.
Syal first heard of the Palatine Chamber of Commerce-sponsored program from a teacher at Palatine High School. Students who were not involved in extracurricular activities or athletics were encouraged to enroll in the program, and he could no longer play football due to injuries. It seemed like the perfect time to explore his interest in business.
"I didn't know that as kids in high school we could accomplish something like making a business, and this program has brought that to life in a way I did not expect," Syal said.
Syal isn't the only student that benefitted from the YEA! Program this year. The YEA! Program takes high school students through the process of starting and running their own business during the course of an academic year.
Working with business owners in the community, students take an idea and turn it into a full-functioning business. The program helps students in all aspects, from planning to manufacturing and marketing.
Students even participate in competitions with their business. Conant High School student Ben Kusswurm was chosen by an Investor Panel to represent YEA! at the National Saunders Scholar Competition in Rochester, NY. His company, Beneficial Industries, proposed the creation of an app that would replace a normal plastic ID badge on a smartphone.
Now that the 2012-2013 YEA! class has graduated, students are already looking toward the future. Syal said he will continue to take business electives at Palatine High School, and would recommend the program to any of his friends who are interested in pursuing a business venture in the future. He said students shouldn't consider this as an easy extra course.
"You have to do a lot of work, but the work pays off because at every turn there is someone to help you," he said. "It is great to have ideas and be able to portray them to people who can actually put them into place and get your business going."
The YEA! Program runs from October through May, and classes are once a week after school. Students are encouraged to apply during the summer. To register for the YEA! program or for more information, visit www.d211.org/yea.
These District 211 students created the following businesses and graduated from the YEA! program: Zoe Ivanov, Plan N' Go, Fremd High School; Vinutha Lakshminarayanan, Insta-Tution, Conant High School; Joseph Dahm, MiNetwork, Conant High School; Ben Kusswurm, Beneficial Industries, Conant High School; Shivam Malik, Insta-Tution, Conant High School; Denzel Ray, Rize Industries, Palatine High School; Connor Curran, The Bungee Belt, St. Viator High School; Yash Syal, The Bungee Belt, Palatine High School; Ryan Chang, Fold'em Buds, Fremd High School; Megan Stella, Genuine Arts, Palatine High School.
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