First Place went to ’Jellyfish Catering’ McKenzie LeVeen and Ivi McIntyre, with teacher Christina Diebler.

Keynote Speaker was Daniel Williams of Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship.

Wakulla High alumni Landon Turner of Backwoods Mafia gave an inspirational speech.

Story & PHotos By LINDA ANN McDONALD Correspondent

It was Shark Week at Wakulla High School for Teacher Christina Deibler and her Entrepreneurship students. Afterwards, an Entrepreneurship Awards Ceremony was held in the Culinary Room on Friday night, May 12, 2023.
Students created their own fictitious business outfits and “pitched” their ideas to the local sponsors and business owner “sharks” of Wakulla County for feedback and advice.
Comparable to the television show, ‘Shark Tank’ where the show features a panel of investors called “sharks,” who decide whether to invest as entrepreneurs make business presentations on their company or product. The sharks often find weaknesses and faults in an entrepreneur’s product, business model or valuation of their company.
As an event kickoff, the students were equipped with “Fast Pitch Deck Instructions” as guidelines as to what was expected of them and to elaborate on how the judging will be based upon.
Some of the standards the students had to uphold as part of the contest -the business “Pitch” was a presentation created by students judged on 5 areas:
• Problem/Opportunity- student explains why this problem that has not been solved by others in the market
• Value Proposition, Primary data that shows customers would buy this as a solution to their problem
• Underlying Magic, student uses evidence to support solution to problem
• Target Market, Explores multiple perspectives as both the entrepreneur and customer
• Cost Structure- Accurately lists their variable and fixed expenses for this business.
The Winners of Shark Week’s First Place went to ’Jellyfish Catering’ – McKenzie LeVeen and Ivi McIntyre, Second Place went to Tray Keep’s business owners Chez Dyke, Grace Gevawer, Jayden Litchfield and Kylynn Wright. The Smart School Book came in 3rd for Jaden McBratney and Sierra Boggs, Fourth Place went home with EZ Garden’s Hunter Barton, Samuel Bruce, and Evelyn McCoy.
When asked by the Sharks, “Why did you choose Jellyfish Catering?” The team responded with, “Wakulla High is by the coast, and the name had a nice ring.” They also told the Sharks, “When we make more profit as a catering business, we can become more like Door Dash. With our approach, we love small businesses and it would help them in the long run to help us.”
Teacher Christina Diebler explained, “I want parents to see how innovative and creative their kids are and open their eyes to future pathways that may or may not include the 4-year college path. As for our local business owners, I hope they see the potential on our high school students and encourages them to stay involved with these students by means of employment possibilities and building job/work relationships.”
Diebler added, “In my classroom, I feel it’s important to teach life skills such as creative problem solving, team building and collaborating, communication skills, the ability to take risks, hard work yields positive benefits, the emotions of failure and rejection alongside sweet success.
In the beginning of Shark Week, Diebler said, “I had to hear the grumble and groans of students in the beginning, but then something changed; the moment they realize they can do it, everything shifts. It is that ‘a-ha’ moment.”
Diebler encouraged students: “When you come across a problem, find out what the problem is about first – it may be about something outside the problem, don’t be afraid to try, don’t be afraid of people judging you, and don’t be afraid to fail, you will only learn from it.”
Local Shark and Wakulla High School graduate Landon Turner of Backwoods Mafia delivered an empowerment speech and shared how he started selling T-shirts out of his truck at Wakulla High School as he pursued a business in which he is passionate about. “Even though Covid about killed my business, I thought of a different way to bounce back- keep thinking outside the box.”
Daniel Williams of Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) also delivered an encouraging speech and motivated students to “GO FOR IT” no matter what.
Mark Milligan of F4 Tech said, “This amazed me: A high school teaching this at the high school level, I wish they had this curriculum when I was in high school.”
“Although our daughter Virginia Gunter did not place in the top 4, we are here to support the great program that allows students to have this type of opportunity it is a wonderful program with a hands-on aspect,” said Dina and Chris Gunter.
Virginia added, “Through this experience, I learned how to problem solve and I keep trying until I find success.”
Food for the Awards Ceremony was provided by Ms. Phillips and the Wakulla Culinary Arts, and keepsake water bottle to represent sustainability awards were produced by Wakulla Engineering.
Awards Ceremony Sponsors include Patrick Barineau of Barineau’s Heating and Air, Christine Marlow of White Rose Construction, Shark Pitch Sponsors include Chuck Adcock and Michael Poucher of Florida State Credit Union, Guest Speakers include Landon Turner of Backwoods Mafia and Mark Milligan of F4 Tech. Keynote Speaker was Daniel Williams of Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE).