ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – A new class at Elmira High School is teaching students how to start their own business. The elective course is called “Entrepreneurship.” Wednesday, students participated in a “Junior Achievement Entrepreneurial Summit.” The competition was presented by the Junior Achievement organization and was modeled on the popular TV show “Shark Tank.”

“This is the first year we’ve offered entrepreneurship to our students here at Elmira High School,” said business teacher Nicholas Turdo. “The Junior Achievement Summit, it’s essentially a shark tank event wrapped up into one day. Students work collaboratively with each other to create a business idea and a business product, and they pitch it to the entire group and there’s a winner crowned.”

More than 80 students were split into 16 groups. Each group was paired with a mentor from a local business to help them find a winning formula.

“We had, I think, 12 or 13 different mentors. Bringing the community into our classroom, I think it’s a great idea. We had different people, from Visions, a couple of people from Corning Inc here, which is phenomenal. I’m very happy with the school community partnership that’s helped me put this together” said Turdo.

“My biggest takeaway is the real-world skills that these students will have going into their careers. A lot of these kids are seniors and have to know how to talk in front of a large group of people. They have to know how to work with people that they’ve never worked with before. So for me, it’s the real-world skills and the applicability of those skills out in the real world when they enter the workforce.”

The winners of the Summit described their idea to 18 News reporter Nicolas Dubina.

“Our pitch was a shoe brand that works with the body of the shoe and has interchangeable soles,” said senior Alex McKerrow. “So you can go from the football field to slipping on the bottom of a sneaker to walk home, to walk to your car, to walk in the locker room, so you’re not wearing down your cleats. I’ve gone through like three pairs of cleats on a football season before, because of all the wear and tear. I’m walking on blacktop to the field, the wear and tear of getting stepped on and stuff like that. I just wanted to create a solution to the problem of having to spend a couple hundred dollars on pairs of cleats when the body is fine, but the cleats are falling off.”

“This is the first time I’ve ever been involved in event like this. I think it’s very cool. I think this was a very good idea. I think they should do this every year,” said senior Jesse Coleman, who was also part of the winning team. His classmate Alex McKerrow echoed the sentiment.

“I think everyone should be granted this opportunity. I mean, it teaches you life skills, team working skills, how to brainstorm or it makes you more creative as a person and it’s just a great opportunity. I wish everybody in the school could get a chance to do this. It’s really cool to be getting interviewed for something academically and not just sports.”