HATCH Program Offers Insight into the Business World

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  • Sawyer Barnhart: “I love the environment, Ms. Kleppinger is really cool. Everyone around just has an interest in doing the same thing that I’m doing, so it’s pretty cool.”

  • Jordan Bowen: “My favorite part is probably the individualization you get. You kind of explore whatever you want to, and I know Kleppinger has been a big help at helping me find things to get into, and just figuring out my future cause next year I’ll be off to college and kind of solidifying what I want to do.”

  • Bram Sullivan: “My favorite part about HATCH is just all the opportunities and you get the real world experience, so you can really take it and do anything you’re interested in.”

  • Cedric Homan: “The real life experiences. It’s not a class, you're not doing a project you're actually making a business. If you're making money from it, you're making money from it. You're not getting a grade for how good your business is or anything. It’s just how much work you put into it and what you do. It's real, and not just another class.”

  • Katherine Duggan: “My favorite part about being in HATCH is the freedom to work on what I want to work on rather than following the curriculum like every other class. I also like that it's giving me real world experience that can make me stand out to colleges and businesses in the future.”

  • Owen Jansen: “We get opportunities to communicate with other business owners, adults, and we’ve been to multiple pitch competitions, to pitch our business to investors and have an opportunity to win money. It’s great to be a part of that, along with just being in a community of good friends. It’s better than a class.”

  • Biruk Tewodros: “I love HATCH because I get to see my peers working on things they're actually passionate about, which is rarely the case when a project is assigned in a classroom. We also have an amazing adviser, Ms. Kleppinger has given us incredible support and exposure to Omaha's entrepreneurial community. HATCH is a very special program, it's truly one of a kind and I feel so lucky to have been able to participate.”

  • Kellen Goc: “My favorite part of being in HATCH is that it allows me to focus on topics that I am interested in and it is self paced and more student led.”

  • Alec Folsom (pictured center): “My favorite part about HATCH is getting real world business experience and making connections with people I wouldn't be able to connect with if it weren't for HATCH. Mrs. Kleppinger does a great job of finding different entrepreneurs and businesses for us to meet with and learn from.”

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Westside’s School of Entrepreneurship, also known as HATCH, is a student-driven program offered to seniors interested in business. HATCH is not an acronym, but was named by the senior students of the 2017-2018 school year. Students are able to choose their own schedule, scheduling four mods a week with business teacher Jeanette Kleppinger. HATCH students also meet on Wednesday mornings as a group. During these mods and outside of class, students work on their individual projects as well as work with businesses in Omaha. Kleppinger said that she believes Westside has a really strong business program, and HATCH helps the students gain real-life experience.

It’s a whole idea of dreaming big, learning by doing, and taking those risks, and then figuring out when it doesn’t work out for you and how to pick yourself up because they don’t all succeed, and that’s okay,” Kleppinger said.

Currently, there are 13 senior students in HATCH, as well as one junior, Bryson Wood. A few students have created their own business and are working towards managing them. Others are working with businesses in the Omaha area. Senior Sawyer Barnhart owns his own landscaping company and is currently working towards developing an app to help landscapers.

“As I’ve run the landscaping company, I’ve figured out that it’s really hard to manage the daily needs after everyday of work,” Barnhart said. “So I’ve wanted to develop an app that could change the daily needs of a landscaper or an independent contractor.”

Senior Owen Jansen has created Build Fishing Skills, a fishing company for beginner anglers. Currently, he said he is trying to find a way to make it more feasible for high school students, including transactions through PayPal. Senior Bram Sullivan has started an advertising business connecting community businesses to the high school. He has also been working with Road 2 Eagle, a Boy Scouts program, to help the scouts work towards accomplishing the rank of Eagle Scout. Senior Katie Duggan has been working on an app called ‘Community Service’ for the past two years. She said that she is hoping to automate the process of Westside students receiving credit for their volunteer hours, as opposed to filling out paperwork. Seniors Biruk Tewodros and Kellen Goc have been working on planning and hosting a networking event for teens across the Omaha area, including a local business owner to speak in front of the teens.

“Our goal is to provide a professional environment for young people to learn important skills for the business world,” Tewodros said.

Goc, along with seniors Alec Folsom, Jordan Bowen, and Cedric Homan, have also partnered with Nebraska Furniture Mart [NFM]. Together, they are working on different aspects of helping NFM, such as designing a landing page for their See’s Candies website and helping improve their customer service.

Bowen, Jansen, Tewodros, as well as seniors Kaelyn Mettler and Nick Connelly, are working with American National Bank [ANB] at their corporate office on 90th and Dodge. They have two main goals. One is to increase their retention rate for new hires and to create a video on the history of ANB.

Senior Matthew Sutej is working on creating a solution to help the “at home workout” market to maximize the weights they currently have and overall gain a better workout. Senior Rachelle Tomasek is looking at careers in accounting, as well as following through with job shadows.

“In order for communities to grow, we need entrepreneurs, we need risk takers, we need people to build the workforce; so I’m super excited to see that these kids are taking on that role and starting at this young age,” Kleppinger said.


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