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These students have a (business) plan

At a Boston high school, entrepreneurship education boosts teens' business know-how.

Business savvy: Fenway High School juniors shake hands with judges at the Blue Cross Blue Shield office in Boston during 'The Pitch,' the culmination of an entrepreneurial class.

courtesy of Rosemary sedgwick/fenway high school

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Standing before a phalanx of potential investors, three young women make the case for their high-end day care concept. They've written a 37-page business plan, and they confidently whip through a PowerPoint about their mission, budget, and marketing plan.

Then they break into song like only teenagers can – a charming choreographed performance of their jingle.

Welcome to "The Pitch" – a culminating event for juniors at Fenway High School in Boston. In 14 weeks, each team of students has gone from not knowing what a business plan is to creating one and trying to sell it to a panel of professional adults, the hypothetical investors.

Entrepreneurship education is gaining popularity as a way to motivate students to master everything from math to public speaking. In the era of No Child Left Behind, it's hard for many schools to make room for entrepreneurial classes in their schedules. But groups that promote these classes, particularly in urban settings, are convinced that a curriculum about creating, financing, and owning a business can also nudge up test scores and graduation rates.

At Fenway, a high-performing public school, educators saw the value so clearly that they made the demanding "Ventures" class a requirement. The course carries into senior year with career exploration and an internship. It's one of many ways students here connect with the world beyond high school and practice the skills they'll need there.


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