SBHS Grads Give Back to Community

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Thursday December 04, 2014

The true spirit of giving is often referenced during this time of year, but many in our community strive to embody this ethos year round. Three inspiring South Burlington High School alumna from the class of 2012 have done just that through a UVM course entitled “Dollar Enterprise.” Designed and taught by South Burlington resident Dr. Kathleen Liang, the course is “an experiential learning activity for students to design, plan, and operate small businesses on campus.” Charity organizations receive all proceeds from the student activities. This year, Megan Henry, Hunter DiGangi, and Nora King developed businesses on limited budgets that ended up generating $500 in donations for two South Burlington programs -SB Mentoring and PACT. Henry and her team donated to PACT in the spring, while DiGangi and King chose SB Mentoring this fall.

Susie Merrick, co-director of PACT brought this news to the attention of the school board at their November 19 meeting. Merrick said, “I love our South Burlington School District Ends Policy and its rich mix of social and emotional and academic learning. I’ve often wondered if there would be a way we might measure whether that ends policy holds up after graduates have left our school buildings. I’m here to tell you that the Ends Policy and what our district hopes it will accomplish is alive and well in these three wonderful young adults.”

Henry, a community entrepreneurship major, and her team of ten began with one dollar of seed money last spring to develop their business: Sweet Spring Cafe. The students created a business plan, job roles for each member of the team, and followed their business plan religiously. “It stated how we were going to produce our product, how we were going to get inventory, which included donations from local businesses, and how we were going to run and operate the daily business for three hours every day over the course of four weeks,” Henry said. The team sold croissants with different filling options and lemonade infused with fruit. Due to the unseasonably cold spring, last minute business changes had to be made like ditching the lemonade as it kept freezing and, instead, sticking with the croissants alone.

This October, King, DiGangi, and Henry (working as an assistant), launched their accessories business, Accessory, Inc., on a nine dollar budget (which they had to reimburse to their professor). The team only used recycled materials and donations from Triple Loop and a family friend that owned a leather store, to craft bows, leather headbands, t-shirt headbands and stickers. They marketed their business through Facebook as well as flyers and tabling in high traffic campus areas.

DiGangi said, “There was a very long process for our project development. We started brainstorming at the end of August and didn’t start selling our product until the first week of October. Within the entire month of September we learned business skills from Dr. L. and held many team meetings to perfect our product, as well as plan for the unexpected.”

King is majoring in Public Communications, as well as Coaching and Consumer Affairs and DiGangi is majoring in Global Studies with a minor in Community and International Development. All three women referenced their education in the South Burlington School District as being a huge driver in their desire to give back to their community. DiGangi mentioned that the foundation she received in the school contributed to her being emotionally and mentally prepared for college.

Henry noted the significant role PACT has played in her life, “PACT was such an amazing group for me. It really helped me blossom and feel comfortable in my own skin. PACT gave me a voice that I didn’t know I had. It changed me so much as a person that I had to repay the favor and give back.”

Not only have these young women attained valuable business development skills and realized the importance of fostering community, they have touched many more lives than they have yet to realize.

SOURCE: Corey Burdick. Correspondent