Hero photograph
Photo by Andrew Jones

Roncalli Songstress harnesses Young Enterprise in support of cancer

Andrew Jones —

Head Girl Caitlin Bradley has embraced Roncalli's Young Enterprise Scheme and its contextual learning model to launch her EP "Call It Hope", furthering the awareness of cancer.

At a packed launch at the Landing Services Building, Caitlin's growing presence as someone to watch in the musical landscape was reaffirmed with an EP of original songs celebrating the theme of hope. The EP is the result of hours of independent work but it is the structure and support of the Young Enterprise Scheme that has been instrumental in bringing this concept to life. Caitlin's original and daring offering follows hard on the heels of last year's YES man, Hamish Scarsbrook, and his group's interactive cookbook Appetite Aotearoa, that used QR codes to link to Youtube clips of celebrities cooking their favourite dishes, in their own kitchens, to raise awareness of depression.

The Young Enterprise Scheme seeks to put the theories of Commerce into practice, creating a framework for young entrepreneurs to use the theories of Accounting, Finance, Economics and Business Studies in a real world context. Roncalli is lucky to have on staff one of only 6 Roaming YES coordinators in New Zealand. Teacher in charge of Commerce, Regan Powell, has long seen the exciting benefits of 'enterprise in action' and is passionate in making sure that Roncalli groups are innovative and think bigger than bath bombs to truly test themselves. "YES is contextualised, real life learning. It's a real experience, dealing with real life problems, where you ultimately get out what you put in."

Roncalli College has long been a proponent of this method to truly engage students in commerce and is a point of difference in the South Canterbury educational environment. The fact that Roncalli also puts a strong special character emphasis on community issues for their products is in synergy with the Scheme's requirements to donate a percentage of profit to charity.

Students place themselves into groups, write a constitution and then form a company. Their task is to then  research a market, identify an opportunity, devise a product, raise capital, engage with manufacturers, develop a marketing strategy and then finally launch the product. It seems daunting when written like that, but each group is provided with a mentor from the local community. Roncalli continues to be well supported by local identities prominent in South Canterbury such as TDC Councillors Peter Burt and Nigel Bowen,  Aoraki Development's Nigel Davenport, Work Outfitters owners Annie and Nick Light, TDC Community Services Group Manager Sharon Taylor, and Mayor Damon Odey. These experts see the value of young people being fearless but calculating when engaging in business, showing the world the talent that originates in Timaru.

And talent there has been, with Roncalli students Tom Anderson and Hamish Scarsbrook both representing New Zealand internationally on Enterprise in Action trips that have taken them to Hong Kong and Brazil over the past 4 years.

Powell is passionate about the engaging difference of the programme. "Traditional commerce programmes still have their place ...... YES, however, allows all learners to develop skills they can use later in life, regardless of what career path they take." He has been responsible for the rapid rise and popularity of a Year 10 course that has the students participating in a programme that is YES on training wheels. Powell emphasises that the entrepreneurial mindset starts there and the students are tested as they "develop skills such as teamwork, dealing with people, building confidence, communicating with businesses, public speaking, conducting yourself in a meeting, chairing a meeting, working with banks, paying accounts, running accounts, developing sustainable products, innovating, etc... you can't learn these things from a textbook". As with the senior version, student must pitch their ideas in a Dragon's Den before product launches at Roncalli Market Days in June and November. Not all products and groups succeed, but such is the real world of business.

Caitlin's next step is to present her business case in the regional finals (YES showcase) on October 30 at Ara to win the spot to head to the national finals in Wellington on Dec 6. We have a good feeling that her innovation and risk taking with be recognised; call it, hope.