Q&A with seniors Claire Qu, Megan Shaffer about Ignite, their business project at middle schools


Claire Qu Submitted Photo

Seniors Claire Qu and Megan Shaffer teach business concepts to a group of middle schoolers. They said the winning group’s project will implemented this week at Clay Middle School.

Aniket Biswal

Claire Qu

Q: What is the name of the project? What is the goal?

A: Our project is called Ignite. Its overall goal is to fill an educational gap in our school district. Megan and I noticed that there weren’t many business education opportunities at the middle school level, and we wanted to change that since we believe that business skills are important and applicable to any career and should be learned at a young age.

Q: How did you complete the project?

A: Ignite ran an after-school club at Clay and Creekside Middle School. We led these club meetings four days a week throughout the month of October (Clay met on Mondays and Wednesdays and Creekside met on Tuesdays and Thursdays). Then, at the end of the month, we hosted a competition at the high school. We reached out to local business owners, school administrators, and city officials, most notably Mayor Brainard, to serve as judges. And in order to make Ignite accessible to all students, we had to raise money to cover the costs of carrying out the program. To do this, we secured seven sponsorships from local businesses and their logos were featured in the competition program. Now, we are focusing on implementing the winning team’s idea, which was a middle school peer tutoring program. Mr. Crosby, the Principal of Clay Middle School, has recently approved the idea, and the program will launch right after spring break.

Q: What is Ignite’s impact?

A: Ignite impacted nearly 60 middle school students in our school district. They learned valuable business skills and problem solving skills that will benefit them no matter what career path they decide to pursue. Ignite built confidence in these students to take risks and think outside of the box.

Megan Shaffer

Q: Why did you and Claire do this project?

A: Claire and I were both interested in business when we were in middle school, but there were opportunities to learn more. When I came to high school and started taking business classes, I realized how valuable the skills taught are. We wanted to provide students with an opportunity to gain skills in marketing, finance, and entrepreneurship and equip them to be confident in themselves. We also wanted to expose students to an aspect of business rarely mentioned, community focused projects. Many business classes teach students that being in business is all about making a lot of money. This shows students how to use their resources given to benefit those around them.

Q: How did you and Claire plan this project?

A: Ignite took a lot of planning. Claire and I met several times during the summer to plan Ignite as well as gave up the majority of October to lead the meetings at the schools, seek corporate sponsors, find guest speakers and competition judges, and buy snacks for the meetings. It was very challenging to coordinate Ignite, but it was so rewarding the see the students progress and grow throughout the project.  Every student came out of Ignite more confident in their abilities than when they started. Also, Claire and I went to each middle school twice a week for a month after school and taught them business concepts through games, videos, and simulations. The students then worked on creating a community-based proposal in a group. They were challenged to solve a problem in their school, neighborhood, or city and create a slideshow to visually show their solution.

Q: Why did you both decide to do this project now?

A: We wanted to impact the next generation of business leaders. If middle schoolers have the opportunity and tools to learn about business now, they will be more likely to succeed in their future, in high school classes and their careers. We knew the amount of time and effort it would take and knew that it wouldn’t happen unless we started it ourselves.