Taking care of business: Grand Junction students excel in program

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Erica Browderson believes one of the most important things she’s learned about business is its ubiquitous role. “It’s intertwined with everything.”

It’s a lesson that’s stressed in a program that teaches Browderson and other students at Grand Junction High School about not only the basics of business and economics but also such related topics as marketing, finance, and management.

“We talk to kids that everything is business,” said Jane Nelms, a teacher involved with the High School of Business program.

That means regardless of what careers students choose and whether they want to become doctors, restaurateurs or tattoo artists, they know a knowledge of business also will be required.

“Business skills are so universally necessary,” said David Bennett, another teacher involved with the program.

Students are paying attention and taking the lessons to heart, if the results of testing constitute an indication.

Students at Grand Junction High School have exceeded the national average on tests administered at the end of each semester for the past two years. In 2017, Grand Junction High School students scored at an average of 69.4 percent on principles of business and 70 percent on business economics. The national average was 60 percent and 52 percent, respectively.

This year, Grand Junction High School students scored an average of 78.5 percent on principles of business, 70 percent on business economics, 73.6 percent on marketing and
62 percent on principles of finance. The national averages were 61 percent on principles of business, 58 percent on business economics, 62 percent on marketing and 58 percent on principles of finance.

Bennett attributed success to the students, their willingness to work and how seriously they take the program.

Angelina DeCrow, another of the students involved in the program, credited to knowledgeable teachers who’re always willing to answer questions.

Grand Junction High School is among more than 20 schools in Colorado to offer the High School of Business program, but the only school in Western Colorado to do so, Nelms said. The Marketing and Business Administration Research and Curriculum Center, a not-for-profit educational foundation based in Ohio, developed the program.

“Basically, it’s like the first two years of a college business program,” Nelms said.

The High School of Business program includes six courses offered over three years, Nelms said, starting with courses in principles of business and business economics. Courses in marketing and finance are offered the second year, followed by courses in management and an opportunity for students to start their own nonprofit businesses.

Learning is based on reading, research and projects, Nelms said. In the finance course, for example, students assemble a portfolio of stocks in which to invest, calculate earnings and report on their performance. Students are expected to work in teams, just as they would in the workplace, she said.

Students start and go through the program together. A total of 36 students have participated in the program in the two years it’s been offered at Grand Junction High School, and 25 more students will join in the fall, Bennett said.

In addition to posting higher scores on an average than the national scores, Grand Junction High Schools have fared well individually. One student posted one of the top 20 scores. Andrew Bennett, the son of David Bennett and another student in the program, is expected to post two top-20 finishes with scores in the 90s.

Andrew Bennett said he hopes to become a writer, but expects business to play a role in his efforts to publish his books.

DeCrow said she wants to become an architect, but also recognizes the role business will play in her profession.

As Browderson put it: “It’s intertwined with everything.”