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Youth Summit promotes entrepreneurs of the future (VIDEO)

Mike Jaquays
Staff writer
Posted 3/24/23

The Entrepreneurial Youth Summit — a “Shark Tank Challenge” — held Friday at Fiber Instrument Sales was all about preparing youth for the future. See a video in the article.

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Youth Summit promotes entrepreneurs of the future (VIDEO)


ORISKANY  — The Entrepreneurial Youth Summit — a “Shark Tank Challenge” — held Friday at Fiber Instrument Sales was all about preparing youth for the future, assessed Mark Cushman, Giotto Enterprises’ vice president of organizational development and HR.

“Every day the best fiber optics people in the world come through these doors, but today the best entrepreneurs of the future came in,” Cushman said.

Giotto Enterprises, in conjunction with Junior Achievement of Central Upstate New York, welcomed nearly two dozen Westmoreland Central School junior and senior class students for the day-long event.

(See event activity in this video.)

“Our mission is to inspire and prepare the youth for academic success,” said Junior Achievement’s Vice President of Learning Experiences Marie Kamp. “Our goal is to connect what people learn in their classrooms with the real world.”

Students broke into small groups to design an innovative product or service and work through turning an initial inspiration for a business concept into a proposal that was finally pitched to judges, in the style of the “Shark Tank” TV show. The judges and the students’ mentors for the event included local college officials, BOCES administration members and area business representatives.

The winning team included Mason Catello, Cole Jones and Michael Scalise, who designed a “Bath Bot” while being mentored by Kevin McDonald, a senior managing director at The Hartford.

Scalise said creativity was in the air at the event. There were a lot of ideas being bounced around in there, he said as they worked on their proposal, and they were all giving their own ideas and building off of those together.

Classmate Bailee Serianni said she enjoyed all of the critical thinking that was employed to figure out the projects. It was fun working under the pressure of the event, she added.

Westmoreland business education and technology teacher Michele Weissenberger said the students were all specifically chosen to attend because they were the ones known to really want to be there. She said they gained a wide variety of valuable skills during the event, including negotiating, compromising and presenting their ideas.

She said she appreciated the chance to get them out of the classroom to show them firsthand how their lessons apply in real life.

“I like that after I have been teaching a curriculum that is mandated, I can take them out and actually show them how valuable it can really be,” Weissenberger said.


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