The inaugural business excellence awards night took place at Swift Current Comprehensive High School (SCCHS) to celebrate the achievements and success of students.
The event was hosted by the SCCHS Business Club, June 5. Business education, skills and apprenticeship teacher Cindy Lowe said the goal of the event was to acknowledge and recognize the business program students as well as the support of employers and community partners.
“Instead of acknowledging just the Business Club, we want to acknowledge all of our people, which is our community people, our parents, our students, everyone, and make it a more formal event,” she said afterwards. “There’s awards nights for academics, there’s awards nights for music, there’s awards nights for athletics, and we thought our business program is worthy of an event like this, especially given our connection with the community.”
The creation of connections between students and the community is an important part of the success of the business program. Over 60 businesses are partnering with the program to take in work experience students, businesses provide sponsorship support for student activities, and community members help out with judging at case and debate competitions.
“We need to then acknowledge their support and thank them as well in a bigger way,” she said. “This was our inaugural event, it was a kickoff to that, and to be an annual event, because we want to connect our kids with those community people and teach them how to network. That’s why we do the business connect banquet in the fall and events like this really to further that.”
Student enrolment in the business program has increased over the past four years, which she felt is an indication that students are realizing the benefits of such knowledge to their future careers.
“I think kids are understanding the importance of financial literacy and business education in their lives,” she said. “So no matter whether they’re an engineer or medical professional or entrepreneur or simply an employee, they understand that it’s important and want to know more about business.”
Participation in the Business Club also increased and 40 students regularly attended events during the year.
“I think experiential learning is where it really makes sense to the kids,” she said. “So if we can connect the real word to our classroom and to our events and extra-curricular stuff, the kids see that as valuable.”
The business program had a very successful year with many highlights. Accounting students participated in the national financial literacy competition at the University of Waterloo. Kirby Erick, Carter Blahey and Jasmin Budrahni received bronze medals. Budrahni placed 39th out of 387 Grade 10 students from across Canada. Adam Guider placed 10th out of 400 Grade 11 students. SCCHS placed 11th out of 31 schools from across Canada.
The Business Club had an active year with many successes. There were around 40 members and a lot of learning took place every Tuesday at their lunch and learn events, which hosted various external speakers such as lawyers, entrepreneurs and Cypress Hills-Grasslands MP David Anderson.
The club started a social responsibility initiative this year and raised funds for three causes. Funds from the barbecue kickoff fundraiser was donated to the Southwest Crisis Services. Three club members volunteered at Telemiracle, where they also presented a cheque of $4,200 from the club’s Telemiracle fundraiser. The club hosted a hypnotist show that raised $1,500 for an international charity that will restore a water borehole at a village in Uganda.
Grade 9 and 10 students had a successful debate season. Two teams competed at provincials and finished first and second in the novice category.
Business students attended three case competitions during the year. A highlight was their success at the Saskatchewan Business Teacher’s Association annual conference and high school business case competition. The entrepreneurship team finished second, the finance team won gold, and SCCHS won the school of the year title, which was the second time in a row.
Forty students competed in various trade categories at the skills competition. Some students attended nationals in Halifax and a team won gold in 3D animation.
Various awards were presented during the awards night. The top five most active Business Club members, who attended over 45 of the 55 events, received the award of excellence. They are Sara Cronan, Eljay Dungca, Daisy Dyck, Alex Friesen, and Ellie Lowe.
A special award was presented during the evening. The SCCHS business alumni award was presented to financial advisor Scott Cassidy. The goal of the award is to recognize a former student who has been out of high school for over 10 years for success and contribution to the business community.
Lowe said it is inspiring for students to see the success of a former student and Cassidy helped to mentor students for the case competition.
“We do have a lot of alumni that helped us over the years with mentoring our kids and judging,” Lowe said. “There are many alumni in our city. … So I do want to involve alumni in our community, in our school as well.”
Leadership awards were presented to five Businesses Club students. They are Kaye Aguirre, Sara Cronan, Eljay Dungca, Wigandt de Klerk, and Amanda Thoreson. Many Grade 9 students joined the Business Club this year, and the rookie of the year award was present to Alex Friesen.
The first annual Swift Current & District Chamber of Commerce business scholarship was presented to Grade 12 student Sara Cronan, who has been a Business Club member for three years.
“It really changed who I am,” she said about her involvement with the club. “I knew what I was passionate about, but I didn't know where to put my time and energy. … I just grew as a person, grew with my confidence and public speaking. I want to learn more and that gave me more.”
She will be doing a dual degree at the University of Saskatchewan, where she will be attending the Edwards School of Business while also doing a major in international studies.
There were many highlights from her participation in Business Club activities, but the most important was the interaction with others.
“I think in general definitely the people around me and especially the advisors, because they're the ones that pushed me and also knew that I'm capable of this, but I just needed a little bit of faith,” she said. “The feeling of being able to have someone believe in you, but this year was also fun because I loved mentoring the students. We mentored the debate kids and the case competition. It was nice to have more of a leadership role, but still to be able to see the enlightenment in the younger students. I think that's what will stick with me most of all.”