Reminder Assistant Editor
WILBRAHAM Most ninth graders don't have the slightest inkling what they want to do as a career, never mind what they want to major in at college. Corey Polom of Minnechaug Regional High School may not end up in business, but for now, his business plans have earned him great success.
Polom competed in Minnechaug's Annual Business Plan Competition, hosted in the school's media center, last December. He and senior Anthony Patullo moved on from that local competition to the Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) Annual Business Plan Competition semi-finals in May.
"I wasn't really sure in the beginning what I wanted to do, but I wanted to be original and creative," Polom said of his project, Polom's Personalized Pillows. He said he got the idea from his parents and that he learned to sew in a home economics class.
"I think the students at the high school really liked my plan," Polom said. He used a survey to gather his classmates' opinions on his business.
His business plan not only impressed the judges at Minnechaug but those at STCC as well. Polom won first place at the regional competition and earned a $1,000 prize for his efforts.
Prizes were provided by the Garvey, Young and Grinspoon Regional Awards for Excellence.
In addition to the monetary reward, Polom also earned the honor of being the first freshman to win the regional competition.
"It was pretty exciting, but I was kind of nervous," Polom admitted. "There were five groups in the finals [Alex Zmaczynski from Agawam, Kelly Kreinest and Jenna Mancuso from Longmeadow, William Medina from Putnam Vocational, Marnise Tucker and Geneva Cornelius from Sports and Medical Sciences Academy and Polom] and when they called my name, my family was like 'Oh, my God.' I had to give an acceptance speech."
He said he plans on enjoying a little bit of his prize money but saving most of it.
Although he's not sure if he wants to continue work on Polom's Personalized Pillows, he said he is still at work on some for members of the STCC faculty and for family members.
"I learned a lot about business through this project," Polom stated.
In addition to his win at STCC, Polom recently received the Freshman Technology Department Business Award during Minnechaug's Evening of Recognition for maintaining an A average in at least one business class.
"His project was excellent," Diane Jeserski, overseer of the Entrepreneurial Program at Minnechaug, said. "He did a really good job."
Jeserski explained that with the Entrepreneurial Program, students are encouraged to go out and actually make and sell a product. The program began in 1999 and Minnechaug students have been attending the STCC Business Plan Competition since 2000.
"The kids really learn about themselves and what they learn in this program they can carry into any place they work they know how to build a plan and make something work," Jeserski continued.
Diane Sabato, Director of STCC's Entrepreneurial Institute, agreed. "It's amazing what these young people are accomplishing in high school," she said. "It's a great thing for the future of our local economy."
She said Polom was "really a great presenter so sophisticated."
The Business Plan Competition is hosted annually by YES!, the Young Entrepreneurial Scholars program. YES! was the first initiative of the Entrepreneurial Institute when it began in 1996, according to Sabato. The program allows high school students to receive hands on experience while learning how to start a business, to go on field trips and receive business start up tools from STCC.
Twenty-two area schools participate in the YES! program. To learn more, visit www.eship.org/yes.asp.