CEO update in Cerro Gordo

Sangamon Valley CEO students gave an update on the inaugural year of the program to the Cerro Gordo school board on Jan. 15. Eight students are enrolled in the program, which visits area businesses. At right is Lisa Sheppard, the facilitator of the Sangamon Valley group.

During the Jan. 15 regularly scheduled Cerro Gordo school board meeting, Lisa Sheppard, facilitator of the Sangamon Valley CEO program presented un update, along with students Alexis Smith and Mason Walker.

The program began during the 2019-20 school year. It is an entrepreneurial program that works with local businesses and five area schools to create a class that is hands on and prepares students for the business world and beyond. They meet every day for ninety minutes in various locations.

Alexis Smith, a student from Bement in the program ended up changing her minor because of the class. “I was never I was interested in owning my own business, but it made me want to change my major to minor in business management.” Smith is now pursuing a degree in Elementary Education with a Minor in Business Management at Millikin University this fall.

Some of the students are business majors, while others see the benefit of the class working in all areas. Cerro Gordo Student, Mason Walker, is such a student. “It opened up my eyes to random skills you might not directly use, or you may not realize you are using. I don’t know, without this class I would never be able to do this.” He went on to add, “Skills that we learned in class are skills you will use everyday for the rest of your life and business skills as a whole whether you open your own business or not it’s going to be helpful.”

Mason Walker will be pursuing an electrical engineering degree with Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville.

Sheppard has found the class rewarding. “They are seeing in every community there is just these great gems of companies. It’s real fun to hear them after a site visit, where they are like ‘I never knew this existed. I never knew this was in my backdoor.’”

One of those businesses is Clarkson Grain, which students recently visited. The students were blown away by how far Clarkson’s business stretches. Walker stated, “I lived here my entire life and I knew Clarkson was big, but didn’t know how big. I didn’t know it was international.”

Board Member and Agency President of Chapman and Henricks Insurance company, Todd Henricks, stated that through his own involvement with the program noticed positive changes. “When I hosted the class, I pulled into the parking lot about 7:05 and everyone of them were already there for the class to start at I had to find a place to park that day. My lot was so full.” Adding, “That is one of their focuses, if you’re not fifteen minutes early you are late.”

Sheppard added they are currently recruiting Juniors for next year’s class. “If you know of any Juniors out there we ask that they be trustworthy, motivated, and hard working. Actually their grades or anything to do with grades is taken off the application. It’s a blind application process, so a portion of the board will decide on next year’s class.” She added that all names are taken off of the applications, and each applicant has to provide two references. This year’s class had eight students, but can take as many as twenty.

Smith stated about the class, “This is probably the best decision of my life.”

Other news

During a special meeting in December, Dawn Mann, teacher of 17 years and volleyball coach resigned after a few months of tension. Abigail Rodebaugh is currently the junior high volleyball coach. Kevin Aten is teaching 7th and 8th grade math, which Mann originally taught.

A letter of resignation from Ashley Spent as the part time BAS director was accepted by the board.

The board decided to keep the last 6 months of closed meeting minutes closed and destroy verbatim recordings that are 18 months and older.

The district spelling bee was held in Cerro Gordo on Jan. 28 at 1:15 p.m. in the auditorium. The county spelling bee will be held Feb. 20 also in Cerro Gordo’s auditorium.

Board President Tony Piraino and Superintendent Brett Robinson visited Dietrich, IL recently to discuss the TIF district. The both said the area has grown as far as students and citizens because of some of the work.

Robinson stated, “they’ve been doing some initiatives for several years and centers on and the collaboration and cooperation between some just citizens are interested in growth and good things for the community and a very close collaboration between the school district and the village board.”

Piraino added, “Very similar as far as proximity to large town like here. You drive up this town and a new subdivision, new subdivision, new subdivision all these houses are what people are looking for.”