On Wednesday, April 13th, Program Director for Stafford County Economic Development, Ashlee Bevan, and Stafford STARS After-School Director, Sharilyn McNickle, took 11 students from the STARS After-School Entrepreneurship class to Wichita for some education and fun.
First up was a stop at Wichita State University’s Devlin Hall, home of the Center for Entrepreneurship. Heather O’Neil, Office Manager, greeted the students with two of her interns. The students were taken to the Widget Room in Devlin Hall where groups can go to brainstorm business ideas. They were then walked down the hallway to the lecture hall in Devlin Hall that can hold almost 200 occupants. Heather gave a little history of the entrepreneurship department at WSU by discussing the founders behind it. The interns also spoke to the students about how they were accepted in to their programs. The students were intrigued by the hidden room behind the white boards in the front of the lecture hall. They then rode an elevator to the second level where some entrepreneurship classes are held. Dr. Gaylen Chandler, W. Frank Barton Distinguished Chair and Professor, spoke to the kids about some of his previous’ students success in the program. A few recent graduates have started their own businesses in technology and event-planning. He also gave the students words of encouragement to be involved in as much as possible and always give your interests a try. About 20% of the student population at WSU is enrolled in entrepreneurship classes of some sort. After completing our tour and visit with Ms. O’Neil in Devlin Hall, the students received a tour of the campus and main buildings from Mrs. McNickle’s daughter, Brianna, who is a Nursing student at WSU. The students absorbed what a college atmosphere can be like and some had interest to attend WSU in their future.
Following our tours at WSU, we traveled to the west-side of Wichita to All-Star Sports. Stacie White, General Manager, gave an outdoor tour of the facility first. She spoke to the students about the adult Go-Karts, Kiddie-Karts, Bumper Boat pool, Driving Range, Batting Cages and Mini Golf. She educated them about seasonal changes they have to make with some of the outdoor attractions, safety factors when interested in attractions such as the go-karts, and maintenance. Indoors she spoke to the kids about the arcade games. They clean out the tokens at the beginning of each week to see which machines receive the most attention and if they are functioning correctly. She and the owner purchase about six new arcade games each year. She used one machine as an example that cost about $21,000. She educated the students that it would take about three years for that machine to make any money for the business. She also spoke to the students about the Snack Bar where they can order pizza, burgers, fries and ice cream. That is also where the prizes from the arcade games are held. On some weekends, she can get enough business through the door that clears out all of the prizes that are displayed behind the counter. She explained that she keeps the same amount of prizes that are on display in the back storage room. Here within the next couple of months, the interior of the arcade building will undergo a complete renovation of the wall paint and flooring. She discussed how she’ll have to move the arcade games around so they are out of the way for the painters and carpet layers. She also talked about some other factors that play in to the facility making money. There is a space just for birthday parties on the main level of the arcade building. In addition, there is a banquet hall for people to rent out for meetings, parties and wedding receptions. Following the business tour, the students were given about 30 minutes to play arcade games and participate in attractions. Lazer Runner (tag) and Go-Karts were the students’ most favorite attractions!
Afterwards, the students stopped at Freddy’s Frozen Custard down the street to eat dinner before heading back to Stafford. These students had a very successful year in the entrepreneurship class that Mrs. Bevan held once a week. All of their hard work and dedication paid off!