What is CEO?

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Anderson Barker, AP Lang Spotlight

“CEO” is a nationally-ran club that many schools and future business leaders take. MV, Webber, Woodlawn, and Waltonville High Schools all take part in the mornings.

In the mornings before school, the CEO members meet together at a new business every quarter.

“Last quarter we met at Magnum Steele. Now we meet at Tri-County Electricity.” Kush Patel ‘23 stated. “It’s really cool to be able to see the insides of these well-known businesses across Mount Vernon.”

“I love meeting early in the mornings because you start your day off doing something very productive. It really challenges me,” Devon Cermak, ‘23, stated.

Every year students in CEO put together their own fundraiser to raise extra money for their own business that they showcase in the spring.

On November 26, they are hosting a Casino Night event at the Double Tree Hotel.

“A Night In Vegas will be the event in Mount Vernon this holiday season. With entertainment, food catered from Double Overtime, and professionally-dealt casino games and raffle. I think this year’s event will beat out previous CEO classes,” Cermak quoted.

Mr. Brandon Bullard is the advisor for the CEO program and is in his second year of leading the kids.

“Brandon is an amazing facilitator. He gives us tips and leads us in the right direction but still lets us make decisions for the class and discover new things on our own,” said Ali Benson ‘23.

“The best part for me is getting to show off all our local businesses to the students. My goal is for each week we get to see at least one business visit and one guest speaker to come in to discuss what opportunities and industries there are in our community. We have a handful of kids who are interested in becoming attorneys so we have heard from several attorneys including an Illinois Supreme Court Justice, Bullard stated.”

“I am happy to match the interests of the students so they can experience the real world before college,” stated Bullard.

As we are just over half way through the first semester of the 2022-23 year students have already picked up many traits.

“My professionalism and networking skills skyrocketed once we got actual hands on experience, reaching out to businesses and local vendors,” Patel stated. 

“I feel like I have developed so many crucial skills to becoming successful and I feel more confident about myself as a leader,” stated Ava Barker, ‘22, former CEO student.

In the second semester of this year, students are asked to create their own business to use as experience or even turn into a possible job.

Last year’s “Best in Show” winner Ava Barker had some words of advice for this year and for future students to come.

“Pick a business that you know you will enjoy starting. Find something that makes you passionate and turn it into something for others. I feel like it is really easy to just think of a simple idea that you won’t enjoy doing, try to turn it into one of your interests or hobbies so it will benefit you down the road,” Barker answered.

Each year the CEO program tries to increase its enrollment as it did this year going from 6 in 2020, 14 in 2021, and 18 in 2022.

If you’re on the fence about possibly joining next year as an oncoming senior, Cermak stated, “Just do it, don’t miss out on this opportunity! You will be a changed person after hearing so many successful people’s advice. The experiences are worth every effort,” Cermak added.