Licking County teens excel in Newark Rotary’s entrepreneurship competition

Darya Sulkouskaya, a senior-to-be at Johnstown High School, received a $5,000 scholarship from Newark Rotary Club’s Brendan Underwood after Free Enterprise Academy competition.

(Photo: Newark Rotary Club)

NEWARK – After three days of challenging competition, Newark Rotary Club’s Free Enterprise Academy rewarded four Licking County seniors-to-be with $5,000 scholarships.

Program chairman John Paul Munhall looks at it as an investment in the area’s future.

"It could be a big part of the future economy in Newark," said Munhall, a veteran of the oil and gas industry who is now executive director of St. Vincent de Paul Housing Facilities. "We want to encourage young people to stay and work here. Entrepreneurship is the heart of the economy, and we’re seeing a growth in it with millennials. I was so impressed by these kids, and am exceptionally proud of them."

This year, the Free Enterprise Academy competition shifted from starting up a swimming pool company, to starting up a food truck. The 27 students who competed worked in teams, studied concepts in banking, marketing, legal liability and business and personal ethics, then created a business plan for a food truck.

"It was definitely a group effort," said Johnstown High School’s Darya Sulkouskaya, who was awarded the Entrepreneur scholarship. "We had to come up with a marketing strategy, with different estimates based on real costs, decide what type of truck to use (used, slightly used or new), try to get a loan from a bank, price menu items and deal with a lawsuit. We had to use what we learned from the different speakers who came in. We even did an Instagram account and showed it to the bank."

Her group came up with the title "Breakfast Klub," from the popular 80’s movie but not the same spelling due to possible copyright infringement. "A Taste of Home" was our theme," Sulkouskaya said. "We targeted a more college-age demographic, who might miss mom’s cooking when they’re away at college."

Watkins Memorial senior-to-be Alexandria Martin won a $5,000 scholarship as part of Newark Rotary Club’s Free Enterprise Club competition.

That group also featured Watkins Memorial’s Alexandria Martin, who won the Visionary scholarship, and Utica’s Lucas Withrow, who was chosen to attend the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) program this month at Ohio University along with Newark’s Ben Smith.

Allison Moore of Granville received the Team Player scholarship, while the Leadership scholarship went to Newark Catholic’s Abigail Silone. Matthew Fidler of C-Tec and Licking Valley’s Anthony Lahna were honorable mention.

Granville senior-to-be Allison Moore won a $5,000 scholarship after Newark Rotary Club’s Free Enterprise Academy competition.

"Our group wanted to bring our local farmers to a food truck," Silone said. "We wanted to use locally-grown potatoes. It was a very fun idea to do. The truck had no set location and could travel all around. It was a little difficult at first, but we were taught how to do everything, things we would have never known how to do. A person who worked a food truck came in and talked to us about everything."

Silone was excited to win the Leadership scholarship. "I’m the lead programmer for our Robotics team at school," she said. "I want to go into computer science and cyber security." She’s considering Ohio State, Dayton and Case Western after her 2020 graduation from NC.

Free Enterprise Academy competitors enjoyed being matched up with students they weren’t familiar with. "I came in not knowing a single person, but by the end, I knew almost everyone," Silone said.

Newark Catholic senior-to-be Abigail Silone won a $5,000 scholarship through Newark Rotary Club’s Free Enterprise Academy competition.

"It was a really fun experience," said Sulkouskaya, who is leaning towards medicine or microbiology after she graduates next year from Johnstown. "It was really beneficial, working with a group of people you had never met."

Munhall is in his fourth year involved with Rotary Free Enterprise Academy. He was co-chair last year, and next year Brendan Underwood of North Valley Bank will be chairman. He will digitize the entire program.

"We would like to see it continue to grow," Munhall said. "Three years ago, four students received $1,000 scholarships. Then, myself, Denny Hesselgesser and Eriech Horvath pushed it up to $2,000 to generate more interest. Last year, Eriech and I petitioned to get $3,000 more added to the scholarships, and we did it by getting sponsors. The community has long supported us."

This year’s sponsors included Gummer Wholesale, Cherry Valley Lodge, Energy Cooperative, Griffin’s Floral Design, Henderson-Van Atta-Stickle Funeral Homes, the Patricia R. and Herbert J. Murphy Foundation, Matesich Distributing Company, the Jerry McCann Companies, Christine and John Paul Munhall, Newark Rotary Club, North Valley Bank, and StoneWorks.

"All of our students exemplified virtues of hard work, perseverance and creativity," Munhall said. "Our future seems to be in very capable hands. I would even say there were one or two of the teams’ business ideas that I would consider investing in."

dweidig@newarkadvocate.com

740-328-8557

Twitter: @noz75

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