by Josh Jones
Times Tribune Editor
HIGHLAND — The 17 seniors of this year’s Collinsville Triad Maryville (Highland) CEO program recently held its Frost Fest class business as the class sought to bring a fun holiday event while also raising money for their individual businesses.
Held earlier this month at Highland Elementary School, Frost Fest sponsored by Truck Centers Inc. featured a 5k and Kids Run, a pancake breakfast, silent auction, raffle and various games and pictures with Santa. The CEO Program teaches entrepreneurship education and seeks to prepare people, especially youth, to be responsible, enterprising individuals who become entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial thinkers and contribute to economic development and sustainable communities. The CEO program is much more than a textbook course. Rather, students are immersed in real life learning experiences with the opportunity to take risks, manage the results, and learn from the outcomes.
Reece Bellm, of Highland High School was a member of the 5k Committee for Frost Fest as she explained that Frost Fest was a class project that they had been working on since September.
“We came up with the idea of doing a 5k, a breakfast to support it and a festival for kids,” Bellm said. “We wanted to market to all kinds of ages.”
Olivia Kohler of Triad High School was one of the managers of Frost Fest.
“We really oversaw everything and made sure everything was going smoothly and that the event would turn out as perfect as we could make it,” Kohler said.
Bellm said for the 5k specifically their committee worked with Final Lap Racing to get their timing and connected with businesses to support the 5k portion of the event. She said that the turnout for the 5k went above expectations.
“We were expecting for runners, 100, that was our goal and we ended up with I think close to 175, so close to 200, which was really amazing,” Bellm said, “It was kind of hectic in the morning but it was good to see how I worked under pressure being in front of people and staying professional, so I think I definitely learned a lot from that. It really pushed me with my public speaking because one of the other students and myself did the announcements before the race. It pushed me to be very confident and that is something I worked on over the years.”
The breakfast occurred before and after after the 5k as Kohler explained what was at the breakfast.
“We did different raffle baskets and then we also had a silent auction for Cardinals tickets and Blues tickets and we actually made a lot of money off of that,” Kohler said.
Arely Onate Trejo of Collinsville High School was a part of the Breakfast Committee. She said being on the Breakfast Committee wasn’t what she expected as they had to consider various things such as the amount of food, sanitary items and where they were going to cook.
“I underestimated how much work it was going to be, but it ended up being a lot of fun and it was definitely a learning experience,” Onate Trejo said. “I didn’t realize all the little details that went into running a breakfast. Just estimating how much of every food we needed, estimating our costs, estimating how many people are going to be there. There was a lot that went into it, but I really enjoyed it.”
The festival aspect of the event featured photos as well as games and activities including cookie decorating, face painting, crafts and more. Blase Kurwicki of Highland High School explained that he was over sponsorships for the program. He said it was great to see how supportive businesses, including the main sponsor Truck Centers, were for a program such as theirs.
“Cole McClusky and myself we went out to get sponsorships from the community to help support this event. It was really neat to go in and talk to other business people to just hear what they would do for us but also in turn what we would give them back,” Kurwicki said. “It was neat to see how the business sponsoring us and us would both benefit from sponsorships.”
Of course not every potential sponsor will say yes as Kurwicki explained that experience.
“I really learned that the earlier on in the year that you ask them for sponsorships the better, because towards the end of the year, most of the sponsors have used all of their money for that portion,” Kurwicki said. “Also just be face to face with people. It is a lot better of an experience for them, because they know what they are getting out of it.”
Kurwicki said that he believes that Frost Fest was a big success for both the program and the community as well as letting people know that Highland is new to the CEO program this year. He explained his overall CEO program experience.
“It is going really well. I have had a lot of good experiences, I have learned a lot of life skills,” Kurwicki said, “Communication has been a really good life skill I have learned.”
Onate Trejo discussed her CEO program experience so far.
“It has been going well. I have been learning a lot, I have gotten a lot better at talking to people I think I used to struggle not only with figuring out what I want to say, but just being confident enough to express myself,” Onate Trejo said.
Bellm said that helping to put this event together really showed her the importance of collaboration as it may be possible to do a regular school project by yourself, but an event of this scale needs multiple people working together.
“In this class it is very necessary that everyone does their part. I think it definitely held me accountable for the things I would say, ‘I am going to do this’, well I actually have to do it, otherwise the event is at risk,” Bellm said. “It definitely taught me teamwork, working together and just taking initiative of myself.”
Kohler said that she believes that Frost Fest went really well.
“There were a lot of aspects that we decided to take on. We did the 5k, the breakfast, the festival, the baskets. So there was a lot to it, but it ended up working out pretty well and we were very proud of ourselves,” Kohler said.
CEO Program Facilitator Emily Reed said that the CEO program would not be possible without the support of local businesses.
“Students are getting to learn about businesses in their communities, but then they also help with contributing to that event whether it is donating or helping,” Reed said. “It is a neat class where the community has come together and wouldn’t be possible without the businesses.”
The final amount raised for Frost Fest is still being tallied and will fund seed money for the individual businesses that each student will launch in second semester. This year’s CEO class includes Reece Bellm, Lucas Brown, Ashley Castillo, John Easley, Megan Helm, Jacqueline Hernandez-Mendoza, Dominic Horras, Olivia Kohler, Blase Kurwicki, Kylie Lawhorn, Jacob Lewis, Cole McClusky, Jonathan Meyer, Arely Onate Trejo, Journey Sampson, Benjamin Simpkins and AJ Sutberry.
Photo courtesy of Siarra Brinker Photography