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Loyd Star students launch a business

Loyd Star teacher Debbie Stietenroth has for the past four months been vigorously focused on realizing a single, important goal.

Through much effort, ingenuity and perseverance, she and her students are starting the Hornets Nest Campus Bookstore. The little business, which opens Wednesday, will sell school supplies and Loyd Star trinkets.

“We’ve received a lot of donations,” Stietenroth said. “Our teachers have donated items, and we had a parent bring in a big box of items for us to sell.”

The store will serve two important functions. Firstly, it will allow the school’s K-12 students ready access to necessary supplies, and, more importantly, it will give the children in Stietenroth’s class a chance to build critical life skills.

“I am really excited,” she said. “It’s one thing to try and teach kids out of a book, but it’s another thing entirely to do hands-on training. Some of these kids didn’t used to want to come to school, and, now, they are so excited about showing up, every day.”

Stietenroth received seed money for the project from the Mississippi Council of Economic Education and the Mississippi Council of Developmental Disabilities.

“This is a project that they have started to encourage entrepreneurship in Mississippi high schools,” she said.

In preparation for the opening of the Hornets Nest, Stietenroth brought her class to the First Street Business Center once a week for two months. While there, the students learned valuable lessons about running a business.

“These kids are so hard working, and I think, right now, 60 percent of jobs in Mississippi are vocational,” she said. “So, we want them to get not only the basic skills but also the soft skills necessary to do well in the workforce.”

Among other things, the children have practiced how to interact with people, be punctual and behave professionally.

“They want to learn, but they’ve gotten discouraged by the state tests,” Stietenroth said. “This gives them an alternative, in case they don’t get a regular diploma.”

Keri Odom is one of the program’s most enthusiastic pupils. She said the time she spent training at the First Street Business Center has boosted her confidence.

“It’s going to be really cool to run our own place,” Odom said of the campus bookstore.

As the Hornets Nest’s grand opening approaches, Stietenroth is looking for community support. The business will operate out of her classroom, and she said she is in desperate need of more shelving.

“We’ll also take any kind of school supplies,” she said. “We’re looking for a cash register, too. So, if anybody has an old one they would like to donate, we’d be more than happy to take it.”

Anyone interested in making a contribution to the Hornets Nest Campus Bookstore can contact Stietenroth at the Loyd Star Attendance Center at 601-833-1858.

“With a little hard work, hopefully, we can keep expanding,” she said.

Story by Trapper Kinchen