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Tuktoyaktuk students compete at national business competition

Lyndsay Herman
Northern News Services
Published Monday, June 4, 2012

Seven students from Mangilaluk School were in Winnipeg for the final stages of a business plan competition for aboriginal students through the Business Development Bank of Canada's E-Spirit Competition.

NNSL photo/graphic

Hayden Stuart, 16, left, Martin Pokiak, 15, Trey Yakeleya, 17, Preston Dillon-Lucas, 17, Gala Night master of ceremonies Stan Wesley, Theresa Cockney, 15, Darcie Bernhardt, 18, and Sacha Nogasak, 16, kneeling, pose for a souvenir photo at the Business Development Bank of Canada's E-Spirit Competition in Winnipeg. - photo courtesy of Alex Storino

The students formed teams last fall and were tasked with coming up with unique business ideas as a regular assignment for class. When the class found out about the competition many teams signed up under the leadership of teacher Alex Storino. In order to reach the final in May, each team had to flesh out their idea by completing assignments every two weeks for four months.

"Unless you met those checkpoints or milestones you were basically knocked out of the competition," said Alex Storino, a teacher at Mangilaluk School. "You really had to keep your head above water in order to stay in the competition."

The E-Spirit competition hosted the three teams of Tuk students who qualified for finals, as well as chaperones Annie Felix, Ryan Walker and Alex Storino, from May 14 to 18 at the University of Manitoba. The Tuktoyaktuk group joined 153 students comprising 54 teams from 24 schools.

During the first and second day of the trip, students presented their business ideas at a mock-trade booth conference and then as a power-point or video presentation.

The participating students, who ranged in ages from 15 to 18, said they had too many great experiences to count. Darcie Bernhardt, 18, is attending Yukon College next fall and said the trip was a valuable introduction to living away from home since the students stayed in the University of Manitoba dormitories for the duration of the five-day trip.

"At first it was definitely an adjustment," she said, "but I got used to it over time because you start making friends and getting used to the environment."

"(The competition) helped us to learn about making a business, structuring it and running it," said Theresa Cockney, 15.

Storino said the gala night, the final night and awards ceremony for the competition, was very special.

"There was so much great entertainment," he said. "The MC was fantastic as well." Students, chaperones and teachers were all privy to virgin beverages served by bartenders, exotic hors d'oeuvres, and chefs serving main courses such as bison burgers and roast beef.

Storino said all of the students, save for Bernhardt, plan to compete again next year and have a better understanding of what it will take to be major contenders.

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