The RPS Business & Entrepreneurship Program, started by math department head Mr. Jalaj Desai, has exponentially become one of the most popular and well-attended activities on campus.
What began last year with close to 40 students has now peaked at close to 100. The quick growth of this program is largely due to the enthusiasm of Mr. Desai, along with the enthusiasm of past students who have participated.
“Last year, when we started this thing, we had about 35 kids who showed interest. That was surprising, but this year, we didn’t expect 90+ kids to sign up for this program. I think that was the most pleasant shock. It’s very interesting to see so many kids turn up on Friday evenings to be a part of this program,” Desai said.
An aspect of the program that has been added this year is the system of grade managers. Each grade at RPS has two or three managers who help coordinate events.
Bradley Simkin ’15, a grade manager for the senior class said, “Grade managers help keep everything organized. It’s a lot easier to interact and collaborate with people from the same grade and from other grades.”
Desai also had positive feelings about the impact of grade managers. He said, “The grade managers have played a big role in this. It makes my life much easier when there are nine or ten grade managers taking care of things.”
This year’s Business & Entrepreneurship program activities thus far have included a trip to Juicetank, a business headed by Mukesh Patel, an entrepreneur who spoke with RPS students at career day. Students were able to participate in an activity where they had the task of thinking of an idea and having to pitch it to the rest of the participating students.
Program participants also got to get a tour of an Ashley Furniture store, owned by Will Schafer, father of Matt Schafer ’17, another grade manager. They were able to explore the ins and outs of the retail industry, and experienced budget management through a game that allowed them to “buy” furniture and design a room.
On December 12, students began the hands-on aspect of the program, where they were able to create groups in preparation for future undertakings within the program. They also got to hear from an RPS alumnus, who came to talk about his entrepreneurial ventures.
When Simkin was asked about what he thinks the program excels at, he said, “The program does a good job of bringing in people who have a huge passion for business. You get perspectives from people within different fields, and it gives you the tools and understanding of those different areas, and what it takes to be successful in those areas. The share of knowledge that they provide is really helpful and important.”
Desai stresses that one of the most important parts of the program is how the students intake information. He wants kids to go into the working world with some experience under their belts, and he thinks they are doing a great job thus far.
“I think it’s great. I think kids are learning a lot. They’re coming up with some brilliant ideas, and we are all amazed with the collaboration that they do,” Desai said.
While much of the credit can be given to kids who have risen above and beyond, Simkin thinks that we must not forget who started it all.
“I think people have taken a lot of interest in what we learn because of the passion of the people who run the program,” Simkin said.
Mr. Desai and other administration involved have expertly engaged students in subjects that otherwise wouldn’t be taught to them until college.
With the combined effort of Mr. Desai and grade managers like Simkin, the Business and Entrepreneurship program has found much success thus far. Desai hopes that this success can be continued throughout the rest of the school year, and for many school years to come.