Students learn business via skateboard company
Custom skateboards made by Yampah students can be bought at havocskateboard.com.
Full custom skateboards are currently discounted to $119.
Jono Moreau, then a junior at Yampah Mountain High School, noticed in 2007 the skate park at Two Rivers Park was unsafe and unpleasant for skaters. So he did something about it. He spearheaded efforts to get the city to improve the grounds.
Now, Moreau is back in the Yampah High halls as a faculty member and still using skateboards for change.
Moreau and fellow faculty member Mike Lowe lead the entrepreneurial class at Yampah High, where students learn business skills through operating a custom skateboard business called Havoc.
Havoc is an extension of a grant the school wrote and pursued a couple of years ago for the XQ Super School Project grant, said Lowe. XQ Super School’s board members include Steve Jobs’ widow Laurene Powell Jobs, master pianist Yo-Yo Ma and fashion designer Mark Ecko. The school ended up not receiving one of the five $10 million grants.
“But the work we did to rethink what a high school could be, we didn’t wanna lose that momentum,” Lowe said. “A large part of that was project-based learning and building an entrepreneurial center.”
When considering what would be a good medium for Yampah High students to learn business skills and the entrepreneurial mindset, skateboards seemed like the perfect fit.
Students are involved in every aspect of the business from the website, social media, sales force and — seemingly everyone’s favorite — production and design. Students will also have to do end-of-the-year budgeting and produce a cash flow statement. They will also work to make pitches for investors at an upcoming GlenX pitch event.
“They really pay attention when you offer them something they’re interested in,” Moreau said.
Students in the class are presented a new business problem to solve nearly every day. A recent one is that the business has pre-sold around 3,000 skateboards and is expected to sell out its inventory over the holidays. Students must then decide what additional inventory and in what amounts to bring in to meet demand.
“We can build a whole curriculum around problem solving,” Lowe said. “It’s the core of the class.”
Yampah High collaborates with other community organizations such as GlenX to provide the students with mentorship and funding. The school also hopes to collaborate with Colorado Mountain College more in the future to provide support to the high school students.
“I thought it was so cool this school even had a business class,” said Yampah High sophomore Katlyn Harris. “It’s a super valuable resource.” She said her favorite part of Havoc so far was going to CMC’s prototype lab and to see the boards being made.
Kaleb Baker-Tinoco said he’s gotten especially interested in the sales side of the business. He hopes to work in the skateboard business after graduation, willing to do “anything skateboard related.”
“I hate to say it, but we’re kind of tricking students into a deep, contextual learning experience. Skateboards are just a means to an end,” Lowe said.
Student interest in the class has grown to the point that there is a wait list to get in. The main requirement? Perfect or near-perfect attendance.
“It doesn’t have to do with academic record, but with the fundamental piece of life and in business of just showing up and being responsible,” Lowe said.
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