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    AUGUST 25, 2005
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Leadership academy lets high school students experience Fox Business School

Photo by Lisa Godfrey

Mili Shah, a student at Cinnaminson High School, presents her team's winning business plan for Moofresh, a product created for their fictional company Digifresh, at The Fox School's Business Leadership Academy earlier this month. Moofresh tests the freshness of milk. Mili and her team were recognized for proposing the best overall plan.   In the background is team member Kathryn Shannon of Downingtown High School.

"I want you to have fun and I want you to learn something, but the one thing you will absolutely know at the end of this program is whether or not you'll want to be a business major in college." Every year, that's how David Kaiser, The Fox School's director of enrollment management and of The Fox School's Business Leadership Academy, introduces this program for select high school students.

Now in its sixth summer, the Business Leadership Academy enables motivated high school students to spend six weeks before their senior year at Temple University taking classes and devising a business plan. At no cost, students receive three credit hours toward their college degree, as well as knowledge of business-plan writing and what business school is really about. As a bonus, those who attend and are later accepted into The Fox School also receive a college scholarship.

In summer 2005, 27 students from 24 high schools in the greater Philadelphia region, ranging from city schools such as Central and Mastery Charter to suburban schools such as Moorestown and Central Bucks South, participated.   The students took one course, either actuarial science or economics, and each morning attended a business-plan workshop where they worked together in small teams.

"Think of an everyday problem that someone has, then think of a way to solve that problem, and you've got a product," Kaiser advised students in the business-plan workshop.

This year's plans included a diverse group of innovative ideas.   Some examples were an iPod for movies that hooks up to a TV, a service that sends text messages if and when a flight is delayed so that passengers can get that information on the go, a pH-based freshness reader that tells consumers exactly how long their milk will stay fresh, and biometrically protected luggage, which can only be opened via proper fingerprint identification.

"I've done a business plan before in school, but this goes more in depth. If I had to write a business plan, I think I could do it after this program," said Jojo Entsuah, a senior at North Penn High School in Lansdale. His group is proposing a cosmetic company, which is based on a product that could match the color of anything to make a custom bottle of nail polish.

Tracey Ziev, who actually came up with the custom nail polish idea, is a student at Phoenixville High School. "I came for the actuarial science class," Ziev said. "I know I want to go to school for math, but I don't know what I want to do with it, so I like the business exposure."

On the last day of the program, the students got the real-world experience of presenting their plans. Dressed in business attire, with their parents in the audience, they gave PowerPoint presentations to a panel of judges who gave out awards.

Other components of the program were workshops on key business areas such as leadership and professional development, and field trips. For one trip, students went to the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., where they heard Col. Donna Brazil speak on leadership. For another, they visited Philadelphia's Federal Reserve Bank to learn how the Federal Reserve system works.

  "I absolutely loved the BLA program," said Hieu Tran.   This year Tran served as Kaiser's assistant.   Six years ago, he was a participating high school student. "For me, the classes were more challenging than my high school classes, so while in the BLA, I felt that it was similar to a college experience. ... Most importantly, the academy gave me a glimpse of the life I would lead if I came to Temple University."

After his Business Leadership Academy experience, Tran did attend The Fox School. This past August he graduated with a B.S. in marketing.   He is one of nearly 25 Business Leadership Academy alumni who have come to The Fox School for their college education.

By Lisa Litzinger