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Empowering Tomorrow's Entrepreneurs: Hanover Central High School Ventures to RISE Fest 2024

On April 25, 2024, 29 students and 3 adults attended RISE Fest 2024. Regional Innovation and Startup Education (RISE) equips educators with entrepreneurship training. According to their website, “The RISE program focuses on the individual and understanding different strengths and abilities that you bring to the table and how you can impact your community.” The entrepreneurship teacher at Hanover Central High School, Kris Fleming, uses RISE to teach Principles of Entrepreneurship and New Venture Development, the first 2 courses of a 3-course pathway. She will be teaching the final course, Small Business Operations, in the 2024-2025 school year. 

RISE Fest 2024 was held at the Studebaker campus in South Bend, Indiana. Students had the opportunity to walk around the campus to shop and learn from local and state-wide RISE students and alumni. This allowed them to network with community entrepreneurs, organizations, and small businesses. From handmade crafts to robots, VR, and more, students got to experience a wide variety of entrepreneurs of all ages. 

Not far down the road from the Studebaker campus is the beautiful campus of Notre Dame. Before going to RISE Fest, the students began their trip at the Duncan Student Center, where they grabbed lunch at the dining hall and explored the building which included a cafe, media offices, event spaces, sports facilities, and more. Through the Notre Dame mobile app, the groups got to take a self-guided tour of the campus with stops including the Golden Dome, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart Church, the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, and the Theodore Hesburgh Library. Two generous members of the campus gave the students a tour of the Basilica, explaining the history behind the building, the stained glass, and more! As time wrapped up, the group enjoyed the beautiful scenery and landscaping as they walked to the bookstore to obtain some Notre Dame swag to remember their trip.

Nicholas Jones, a junior at Hanover Central High School, reflected on the RISE Fest as a captivating experience, stating, “I got to meet a lot of business people and see their perspectives on how they operate their own businesses. It was a lot of fun with all the interactive activities.” He emphasized the importance of thinking creatively in business and persevering through failure. Additionally, he appreciated the trip as a meaningful departure from the classroom routine. Upon visiting the Notre Dame campus, he remarked, “I thought the campus was amazing. The pristine atmosphere made it feel special.”

Another junior, Kyron Turner thought that the Notre Dame campus was amazing and found the history and culture very interesting. After RISE Fest he said, “I thought the RISE Fest was an astonishing experience. It was a great opportunity for small businesses to make themselves known and it was so cool interacting and buying the different products.” He took away that anyone can create a business at any time with an idea and determination. Kyron said, “I enjoyed learning the ins and outs of being an entrepreneur and the steps to making that happen.”

Freshman, Payton Reich, loved visiting the Notre Dame campus because there was so much to see. One of her main takeaways from the trip was seeing the historical church on the campus. As for RISE Fest, she said, “The RISE Fest was a great way to see how businesses are doing and how much people will put themselves out there to keep their business going.” She enjoyed the other students who went on the trip because “There were a lot of big minds that were there and being able to take them was a great experience.” 

Sophomore, Matthew Cook found the Notre Dame campus intriguing during his first visit, particularly enjoying the sights like Touchdown Jesus. He expressed his enjoyment of RISE Fest, relishing the conversations with entrepreneurs and their insights into business strategies. Despite initial uncertainty about the trip, he expressed gratitude for the opportunity to expand his knowledge of entrepreneurship, acknowledging its relevance beyond aspiring entrepreneurs. He also said, “I enjoy that we get to learn about other entrepreneurs and how they run their businesses. We learn a bunch of useful information that is useful even if you don't want to become an entrepreneur.”

The journey to South Bend, Indiana proved to be a resounding success for the entrepreneurship students of Hanover Central High School. Following their exploration of the breathtaking Notre Dame University campus and active participation in RISE Fest 2024, students departed with invaluable connections and newfound insights. Several even seized the opportunity to support fellow entrepreneurs by purchasing their products, igniting sparks of inspiration for their own future ventures. Enhanced by favorable weather and good company, this field trip provided our entrepreneurship students with a truly enriching and rewarding experience.