Sangaman Valley CEO

Sangamon Valley CEO students Sadie Peeler (far left) and Alexis Smith (far right) give a report to the Bement school board on Nov. 13. Also pictured is CEO Facilitator Lisa Sheppard.

One of the main goals of a new high school CEO course is to provide real world experience to students.

Even if that includes unexpected ones.

A pair of Sangamon Valley CEO students found that out when, on their way to a class site visit, they were stranded on the side of a Piatt County road after getting a flat tire.

On Halloween.

At 7 a.m.

We had no idea what to do. We were on our way to our site visit. We started freaking out,” said Bement High School senior Sadie Peeler.

Then they remembered they weren’t really alone. They had six new friends from three other schools they had made in the first 12 weeks of the CEO entrepreneurship program, which is in its first year.

The first thing we did was call one of our classmates. Within like three minutes he (Mason Walker) was there and was helping us. We called Lisa (Sheppard), our facilitator, who told us to call our parents,” added Peeler, one of eight students who was selected for the CEO program.

When word got around to other students, at least two others volunteered to help, but were not needed after Walker arrived at fellow BHS and CEO student Alexis Smith’s car on the Argenta-Cerro Gordo Road.

We’ve formed a lot of bonds,” Smith told the Bement school board during the Bulldog Minute at its Nov. 13 meeting.

Smith has already developed a sense of duty, and, despite the car trouble, still wanted to get to the site visit that day.

I said ‘leave my car. I want to go,’” she added.

Sangamon Valley CEO Facilitator Lisa Sheppard denied that request, not wanting Smith to drive that far on a temporary tire. But she said such happenings show students that things don’t always go as planned.

They also test the mettle of the initial instruction CEO trainees have received, as well as the support system students have built up with classmates, who come from Argenta-Oreana, Bement, Cerro Gordo and Monticello high schools.

These are kids from different schools who didn’t know each other 12 weeks ago. It was neat seeing the students work together,” she said.

They really handled themselves well. One of the tenets of the program is that we meet 7:30 to 9 (a.m.) five days a week. But CEO time is 15 minutes early, so students arrive at least by 7:15 to anywhere that we go,” added Sheppard.

Even though we missed our site visit, we learned a valuable lesson that day about communication, and networking, and how close we’ve become as a class. That really helps us in the long run,” added Peeler.

Smith wholeheartedly agrees, and is thankful for her new pals.

We’ve formed a lot of bonds,” said the Bement High School senior.

Students have spent the first 12 weeks of the CEO program getting acquainted with business practices. Their first project was to make badges to wear. Next up is a group business that will result in a bags tournament after the beginning of the year. Students will take what they learn from that to form their own businesses, leading to a trade show on April 28 at a site yet to be determined.

Although it is a high school offering, the CEO entrepreneurship education program is funded by a separate entity at no cost to the schools. Students meet five days a week at different locations. Their home base the first quarter was in the Law Offices of Suzanne Wells in Monticello, while the second quarter is in the board room of the Gerber State Bank. Home bases will be in Cerro Gordo and Bement the second semester.

Curriculum is provided by the Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship.