New business class nurtures entrepreneurs in students

Goal to increase CTE offerings

Nolan Zils, Co-Editor-In-Chief

Freshman Ian Angelopoulos runs a business. His company, Corona Crafts, sells masks for teens that are made by teens. He’s now learning to market his business with the help of the new Intro to Business and Marketing class, one of the school’s few CTE offerings.

In his sixth-period class, he is learning more about how to run his business and pursue his interest in fashion. The business class has been a longtime goal of Principal Cheryl Lawton since she joined Branham in 2016, especially in the tech hub of Silicon Valley.

First-year teacher Jennifer Boltz is teaching the class, along with World History. She majored in business and worked at a law firm as an immigration analyst for three years before going into teaching this year. She said the idea of being given the responsibility of single-handedly leading a brand new elective was daunting.

“Business is a very big umbrella,” she said. “There’s a lot of things that we can do. My biggest obstacle was figuring out what I wanted to focus on.”

The three Intro to Business classes, which qualifies as a CTE elective, teaches topics such as entrepreneurial skills, business practices, and advertising.

In addition to Angelopoulos, students have been inspired to start their own businesses, including a junior who opened her own eyelash line.

“They’ve been using what they learned in class to promote their own product,” Boltz said. “So that is super-awesome to be able to see it applied right away.”

Angelopoulos said the topics he’s learning are “fascinating”, in Intro to Business for his own entrepreneurial purposes.

“It would majorly help me learn how to market and promote my product,” he said.

Early in the year, the class worked on creating advertisements for fictional products, including Monsters Inc., Dunder Mifflin and Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Recently, they have also been examining case studies on ethics.

Sophomore Vyas Chipalkatti said that group projects such as these hold his interest.

“I think if we didn’t have as many team projects and team class activities, I probably would have dropped the class by now,” he said. “But (Boltz) has really held my attention in the classroom.

Junior Adi Leist, who is considering going into a business as a career, said she enjoys Boltz’s teaching style and how the class prepares students for going into the industry.

She cited the recent Business Ethics unit, which explores real-life stories such as the fall of the Enron energy company and the McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit as examples of pitfalls to avoid in business.

“It’s very helpful knowing what things will fail your business, and what will make it better and what the right decisions are when it comes to that,” Leist said.

Boltz said the class will be focusing on the digital world’s impact on business, and the effects of marketing in the business world. She said that her experience in a law firm allowed her to figure out how she wanted to teach students about the business world.

“There’s a lot of really cool opportunities with this class specifically to prepare students for career opportunities after high school or after they graduate college,” she said.

By next school year, Lawton is expecting to expand the program enough for Boltz to become a full-time business teacher, and to add a second-year class for returning students.