Classroom learning took a back seat to real-world experience last week when a group of Littleton students experienced the challenges of starting a home business.
Fifteen high school students traveled to city hall as part of Youth in Government Day on Sept. 26. The program is designed to give students a first-hand look at how local government operates, and the goal is to make sure the next generation is active in charting the city’s future.
“If you see something you want changed, this is how you do it,” said Mark Decker, teen librarian at Bemis Library and a member of the Youth in Government Committee.
As part of the event, the students were given a simple task: start a business in your home while meeting all of the city’s zoning and licensing requirements.
The students are currently working on their presentations and will submit plans to the city by Oct. 18. The winners, to be announced in December, will split $4,000 in scholarships.
“It’s very interesting to learn what goes into running a city,” said Hailey Ferguson, 16, a student at Options High School. “I didn’t know a lot of the stuff they talked about today.”
To help them formulate their proposals, the students listened to city representatives describe the process of getting a new business licensed. Afterward, they had one-on-one time with each city department.
Ferguson was still deciding what business to propose but was leaning toward a home day care, which she might like to open later in life. Other students also were pondering business ventures that they might want to pursue in the future.
Tram Nguyen’s plan for a small do-it-yourself website along with a unique clothing and jewelry line is extremely thorough. She’s already talking about moving production, once sales reach a high enough level, to China to take advantage of lower manufacturing costs.
“I thought businesses just started by themselves,” said Nguyen, 16, a student at Arapahoe High School. “But now I know they have to work with the government to get started.”
The goal of the program, besides giving the next Bill Gates a head start, is to make sure the students have a working knowledge of city government and the skills to turn their visions into reality.
“I work with teens all the time, and it’s not surprising to me to see the creative ideas they come up with,” Decker said. “They have some of the most creative and innovative minds.”
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