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Milton Hershey School Students Gain Experience in Entrepreneurship during “SHARK TANK”-Style Presentations

Recently, eight Milton Hershey School high school students pitched their business ideas to a panel of eight judges of local business leaders and MHS community members. The activity, inspired by “SHARK TANK,” the television reality series that features entrepreneurial contestants making business presentations to successful “shark” investors, is the culmination of a semester-long entrepreneurship class project.

The project was part of their entrepreneurship elective through the school’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) Business/Financial Management & Accounting career pathway. Students in teams of two researched and prepared business ideas for a sleep pillow, portable shower, online subscription service for school supplies, and a lava rock restaurant.

“The goal is to have students learn all of the components that go into starting their own business,” said Jennifer Drey, MHS Business Education Teacher. “We always run into students who say that they want to be entrepreneurs, but we want to make sure they actually understand the work and logistics that go into it.”

Through the school’s CTE advisory committee, Drey selected a panel of judges who have an interest in entrepreneurship. The judges include MHS alumni, staff, retirees, and representatives from Hershey Entertainment & Resorts and Penn State Health.

A panel of judges receive instruction from a Milton Hershey School business teacher before student presentations.

Lauren Turnball, Managing Director of Market Development for Hershey Entertainment & Resorts, was one of the judges. She is always eager to engage with Milton Hershey School students in meaningful ways.

“I truly appreciate the opportunity to share my experiences with the students—I love what I do and it is a great privilege to be able to help future generations build an understanding and a passion for the work I love,” said Turnball. “I’ve gotten to connect with some of the students as part of the [school’s] pathway, and this was an excellent way to see some of the skills they’ve learned come to life in a creative way.”

Milton Hershey School senior David Li, and his partner Olivia Haynes, pitched the product—PencilBox, an online subscription service that delivers quarterly shipments of school supplies for an annual fee.

“Being able to work on projects like this provides exposure to concepts and principles in a way that is more tangible than going through a textbook,” said David. “Ultimately, this project reminds me of the opportunities that exist out there, whether it is using soft skills or the potential to present a pitch for a new idea.”

Milton Hershey School senior David Li presents during a SHARK-TANK activity in his business class.

Milton Hershey School’s Career and Technical Education program includes 12 career pathways that provide hands-on learning and real-world experience in particular fields.

Milton Hershey School does not discriminate in admissions or other programs and services on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, sex, religious creed or disability. Read important MHS policies on equal opportunity and diversity, equal employment opportunity, and more.