The Morgan-Scott CEO program is a program that takes area seniors from seven high schools in Morgan and Scott Counties out of the classroom and puts them in business settings to teach them about entrepreneurship and economic development. This class takes students out of their comfort zone and allows them to explore topics, ideas, and experiences that may be foreign to them. In the process, students learn to communicate and work as a team for a common goal. They also learn to adjust, to think on their feet, and to fail. This program teaches students that failure is simply getting a different set of results than expected and that what you learn from your failures may be more beneficial than what you learn from your successes. The important part about failure is what you do next. Your effort, enthusiasm and drive to change the result is what makes you a success. This year’s Morgan-Scott CEO class can certainly be described as a success and the 14 students can certainly be described as leaders in that effort, drive and enthusiasm. These students never hesitated to make suggestions for improvements and to put in the work. They were fun, they were hard working, and they always kept me on my toes. Their sense of humor was refreshing, their creativity was enlightening, and their desire to always be better was impressive. What is also impressive about these students, is they came to class every morning at 7:20 (and sometimes earlier) dressed in professional dress clothes without complaint. They stood in front of large audiences to speak without complaint. They completed tasks without study guides, they swallowed their pride because everyone in the class was a standout, and they went out on a limb to learn about things that were complex, confusing, and sometimes just downright boring. And they all did it with a smile. They participated in early morning CEO events, weekend CEO activities, and stayed late at CEO evening functions all while maintaining their high academic performance, participating in their numerous extracurricular activities, and maintaining employment, at sometimes, more than one job. For these reasons, honor cords were presented to CEO students to wear at graduation. The graduation honor cord indicates an additional honored badge of distinction to recognize all that the graduate has achieved, and this group of young people has definitely achieved a lot.

In addition, as the catalyst behind the CEO program, Illinois Electric Cooperative earmarks $5000 each year to be awarded to Morgan-Scott CEO students based on criteria set forth each year by the class. This year’s class decided they would award money for the best pitch video, best trade show booth, best trade show personality, best shark tank participant and most improved student - all as judged by an independent outside panel of judges. I am pleased to announce that the following students have won these awards:

Eli Brown & Anna May – Best Pitch Video
Anna Sellars – Best Trade Show Booth
Gracie Hobrock - Best Trade Show Personality
Brayden Booth & Emma Brown – Most Improved
Emma Brown & Anna Sellars – Best Shark Tank Presentations

I want to thank the investors, speakers, host businesses, sponsors, volunteers, parents, and schools for their continued support of the Morgan-Scott CEO program. Without them, this program would not be possible. While these students earned the honor cords, it was truly my honor to have them in the class. Thank you all again for participating in the program. Next year’s class has some big shoes to fill!

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