MHS juniors Sean Bertalot and Andrew Lund shared information about the Cardinal Enterprise program, which was offered as a class to students for the first time in the fall semester of 2017-18, to the Board of Education at its regular meeting on Monday, Feb. 12.
Staff members Cherie Hellenbrand (business), Eric Wheeler (metals) and Doug Johnson (woods) were instrumental in getting the course started and were also in attendance at Monday's meeting. Hellenbrand also credited Director of Secondary Learning Laura Love and MHS associate principal Lisa Jondle for allowing the school to add the course.
In all, 34 students were in the course, including eight girls.
Students developed the idea after hearing about another high school in northern Wisconsin that has done it for years. They collaborated on products that were made of wood or metals. Some of the items available to purchase included a wood and 3D version of a cube, a Cardinal head made out of wood with another metal cardinal head attached, and a trailer hitch, which Bertalot said was one of their most popular items although quantities were limited due to equipment issues.
Students spent the first couple of months with the start-up business creating a website, developing graphics, and making logos that were recognizable. Even though many start-ups take a couple of years before they turn a profit, Cardinal Enterprise made $619 in Year 1.
Lund noted they made more money on projects such as wooden frames where items were donated. They are hoping to develop more community partnerships in the future in hopes of increasing profits.
Students also made multiple grills, although they lost money. Still, the students said it was a valuable learning experience. Another challenge was making sure all of the students were motivated. The class was open to sophomores, junior and seniors and interested students had to fill out an application, but Bertalot and Lund thought offering scholarships might motivate students next year.
"If you are giving the students a really boring project to work on, they won't be engaged,'' said Bertalot, who said he is learning toward business over engineering as a result of taking the course. "Can we still grow it? Of course. ... This class is really unique. The teachers wanted us to tell them what we want to do. They took the training wheels off. It was an awesome experience.''
Other challenges included varying degrees of quality and people who wanted to purchase items but didn't have children in the District could only pay by cash or check.
"We got to see first-hand how a business works and first-hand what works and what doesn't work,'' said Lund, who plans to go to UW-Madison and enter business management. "I loved the class.''
Cardinal Enterprise was featured in the Wisconsin State Journal School Spotlight and also had a story in a recent edition of Teaching Today Wisconsin.