Over 100 secondary school students gathered in Golden Island shopping centre, Athlone last Friday as they competed to represent Westmeath in the national finals of the Student Enterprise Awards.
Students throughout the county have being participating in the Student Enterprise awards programme, co-ordinated by Westmeath County Enterprise Board, since September. The students showed that with the right business idea, you can still make a profit, even in a recession, with all the judges commenting that the business ideas exceeded their expectations.
Co-ordinator for Westmeath County Student Enterprise Awards, Sadie Wheatley, said that the standard of business was outstanding; “Students are innovative, hard- working, and enthusiastic, and it is very important to encourage their entrepreneurial skills,” she said.
Each student who reached the county final was presented with a Student Enterprise certificate and a goodie pack. Overall category winners received cash prizes and were presented with beautifully designed trophies from Mullingar Crystal.
St Joseph’s Summerhill scooped victory in the senior category with ‘Sell B’, a recession-beating buying and selling booklet created by Maura Mee, Gemma Stack, Sarah Murphy, and Deirdre O’Neill. The magazine allows students and teachers to sell and buy items at a good price, and was so successful that the idea was developed to allow local businesses and the public to advertise, buy, or sell from their magazine.
Second prize also went to St Joseph’s Summerhill for ‘Head to Bow’ customised design hair bows designed by Gillian Egan and Blana Gately. ‘Ballyfarmer hoodies’ from Our Lady’s Bower, Athlone received third prize. The ‘Flames’ recycled paper briquettes business by students Brian Guinan, Gary Larkin, Daniel Kelleher, Tom Farrell and David Slevin from Moate Secondary School won Most Innovative Business, while Best Business Display went to Mercy College Kilbeggan’s ‘Classified School Survival Guide’ developed by Kathryn Nea, Helena Hayes, Aoife Deegan, Stephen Bradley, and Amy Grehan.
First place in the Intermediate category went to Loreto School, Mullingar. ‘Study Buddy’ students Niamh Hand, Lisa Brennan and Aine Lynn created subject notes on CD for first year students. Second place went to ‘Highlighted Hoodies’ from Adam Smith, Eibhlín O’Mara, Daniel Dalton, Nathan Byrne, and Aaron Flanagan who represented St. Columba College, Killucan. Most Innovative award went to ‘Get the Cert’ by Shauna Langley, and Best Display was awarded to ‘Jarful’ by Shannon Molloy, Lorraine Smullen, and Elaine Connaughton from Athlone Community College.
St Joseph’s Summerhill claimed victory in the junior category with ‘All ages & stages’ students Niamh Farrell and Ellen Foley creating beautiful blankets. Second prize was awarded to ‘Rockin Bobbins’ students Shauna Geoghegan and Ciara Barry, representing St Columba College, Kilucan, and third prize to ‘Forever Flowers’ students Jack Quinn, Brian Coughlan, Conor Brady, Conor Samuels, Conan Molloy, Colm Lowry, and Kieran Cleary, from Athlone Community College. Most Innovative prize was awarded to ‘Wrap it Up’ students, Brogan Ryan, Jessie Raleigh-Doyle, and Tino Chidavaenzi representing Loreto Secondary School Mullingar. Best display was awarded to ‘Stick Around’ from Shannon Shine, Meadbh O’Neill, and Kayleigh O’Doherty representing St Joseph’s Summerhill.
The winners in each category will now represent Westmeath in the National Student Enterprise Awards in Tullamore on May 14, where the overall senior winner will receive a cheque for €500 and an educational trip to Italy.