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Even before they graduate, students at Diamond Jenness Secondary School are gaining some of the knowledge that they may one day need to run their own small businesses.

“We have our business courses,” said Kim King, the guidance counsellor at the school. “We have financial management, legal studies, and management and marketing.”

King noted those three courses are offered online through the Alberta Distance Learning Centre (ADLC).

Kim King, left, the guidance counsellor at Diamond Jenness Secondary School, says there are courses available to teach students some of the knowledge they may need to eventually start their own small businesses after graduation, such as Grade 10 student Rochelle Smith.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

“We have quite a few students doing them,” she said.

King noted some students talk about one day owning their own businesses.

“But they do recognize that there’s a lot of work to do prior to that,” she said.

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The students realize they need education and experience, she added. “At the end of their dream, it’s not unusual to hear, ‘And open my own business.'”

There is a dedicated teacher at Diamond Jenness to help students with the three online courses.

In addition to those three courses, King noted there are numerous other business-related courses offered through ADLC.

She pointed out that Diamond Jenness also offers trades courses.

And there is a work experience program for students to try a job in the real world.

“Hay River is wonderful,” King said. “They support this program fully.”

She also noted that Diamond Jenness is involved with the Trades Awareness Program at Aurora College in Fort Smith, adding that 19 students participated about a month ago.

In addition, some students participate in the Dragons’ Den Challenge, a Rotary Club of Hay River Sunrise initiative in which the students pitch a business idea to local entrepreneurs.

Plus, families with children in Grade 9 can participate in a ‘Take Your Kid to Work Day’ in November.

Rochelle Smith, a 14-year-old Grade 10 student at Diamond Jenness, said she has thought a lot about starting her own business.

“I have wanted to be an orthodontist since I was a kid. It’s what I want to do,” she said. “And if I was an orthodontist or even just a dentist, I’d be able to start my own clinic.”

Smith believes the courses and programs offered at Diamond Jenness could help her reach that goal.

“They all help you to get to somewhere you want to be, and they can all help you start your own business,” she said.

Smith noted that learning about financial management, and management and marketing would help in starting a small business.

And she also thinks that work experience would be valuable.

“You get to learn about who’s running the business and how they’re doing it,” she said. “If you’re doing work experience, you have to speak to employers about what it’s like to be working at these places.”

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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