Big ideas and innovative thinking are the cornerstones of a new academy opening at Kempsville High School on Tuesday.
The Entrepreneurship and Business Academy aims to prepare Virginia Beach students for a bright future in business by providing them with specialized curriculum and Hampton Roads business connections.
“Entrepreneurship is an opportunity to be creative, innovative and to think differently,” said Academy Coordinator Meghan Timlin. “We are going to heavily provide our students opportunities to connect with the business community.”
More than 100 incoming ninth-graders were selected from across the city. They are slated to spend four years in the academy, taking classes that explore idea generation, critical issues and business and the roll of business in history, Timlin said.
The first year of the academy will provide students a broad introduction into entrepreneurship and business. Next year they will choose a specialty to pursue: entrepreneurship and innovation, corporate finance or business information and technology.
During their senior year, students will have an internship with a local business partner and complete a project which they will present to the Hampton Roads business community, Timlin said.
“They have the opportunity to work in the field,” she added. “It gives our students a big leg up.”
This year’s academy business partners include Old Dominion University, Madison Jewelers, Cheryl Tan Media and U.S. Naval Plumbing, as well as others.
Along with special training and internship opportunities, students will be able to dual enroll in college classes and could earn an associate degree in business administration before graduation, according to the Virginia Beach City Public Schools website.
Timlin said the hope is to prepare students to open their own businesses someday. Some students already possess entrepreneurial skills and have small businesses, such as Etsy shops.
“We’re at a point in Virginia Beach where there’s a lot of opportunity for growth in entrepreneurship,” Timlin said. “Taking something that’s your idea, something you’re really passionate about and making it something… Virginia Beach is a place that’s poised for that.”
Although the academy is the first to open in Virginia Beach in 10 years, it is among eight specialty programs available for high school students in Virginia Beach City Public Schools.
These also include the Governor’s STEM & Technology Academy at Landstown High School, the Visual and Performing Arts Academy at Salem High School and the Global Studies and World Language Academy at Tallwood High School.
“What’s great about Virginia Beach is we have so many different interest areas for kids,” Tomlin said. “We want a kid to be happy in their program. That’s what it’s about.”
Applications for next year’s academy will be accepted between October and January. Eighth and ninth graders can apply.