The national Young Enterprise Scheme marked its 40th anniversary recently with a celebration held at Te Papa in Wellington.
One of the guest speakers was a senior Balclutha teacher who has been acknowledged as the longest-serving teacher involved in the scheme since its inception in 1980.
No other teacher or scheme staff member has been involved in the scheme for as long as South Otago High School deputy principal John Douglas.
Mr Douglas was invited to speak about his observations and memories of the scheme, which he has been involved with for more than 38 years.
“When we first started with the scheme in 1981, Bruce Cowan was the teacher in charge. He began our long association with the scheme, then I came in the following year,” Mr Douglas said.
“For our school, the Young Enterprise Scheme has always been an extracurricular activity for interested year 12 students.
“Some other schools use it as the main commerce teaching NCEA subject, but we use it as a way to introduce students to creating business concepts and decision-making. They learn how to operate as a group, with each student taking on responsibilities within the group,’’ Mr Douglas said.
“All gain valuable experience in contacting various community groups and business, where they discover deadlines and role responsibilities for completing tasks when asked to.
“It has been a wonderful scheme and many students have taken part ever since the South Otago Chamber of Commerce representative got our school involved in the early 1980s.
“Along the way we had help from many great mentors here in the Clutha district.”
Over the years, pupils involved in the scheme had started a sheepskin factory making woolly dusters and made numberplate surrounds, tufa pots, greeting cards, pen sets, business first aid kits and bookcases. They had also sold honey, cheeses and herbal teas.
Pupils had to form a company and create and market their products successfully,
“It’s hard for them because it is in their spare time and not class-related, but everyone enjoys it.’’
Those successful group dynamics constituted one of the key benefits he raised in his speech at the anniversary, he said. Through the scheme pupils learnt the difference between fundraising and enterprise.
To help promote the scheme to future classes Mr Douglas is looking for ex-pupils who participated in the scheme and would be prepared to offer their comments or observations.
Mr Douglas can be contacted by emailing jdouglas@sohs. school.nz