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Area High School Students are ‘Thrown to the Wolves’ in A-State Competition


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From left: Cailin Jones, Hoxie High School; Emma Jones, Hoxie High School; Aidyan Kattaviravong, Jonesboro High School; Brittni Lyerly, Buffalo Island Central; Ambar Orozco, Buffalo Island Central; Bo Cook, Cross County High School; Mali Wallace, Cross County High School; Lexi Jarrett, Cross County High School. Not pictured is Sarah Latham, Hoxie High School.

JONESBORO – High school students from around the area were “Thrown to the Wolves” this past weekend in a project-based learning challenge presented at the Reng Student Union auditorium. The event, held on Saturday, featured an innovative competition like that found on the television program, “Shark Tank.”

Students participated from area schools including Hoxie High School, Cross County High School, Buffalo Island Central High School and Jonesboro High School.

“Students from northeast Arkansas presented an elevator pitch and marketing plan on stage to a panel of judges and a live audience to compete for cash, scholarships memberships to A-State Innovate and marketing and manufacturing guidance,” said Andrea Allen, executive director of the Delta Center for Economic Development.

The contest was organized by A-State’s Delta Center for Economic Development (DCED) and sponsored by The Solutions Group, Hytrol, Jonesboro Unlimited, NEA Intermodal Authority Wilson Chamber of Commerce and other anonymous donors.

“Chad Neill, Kristi Pulliam and Manu Nair served as the ‘alphas,’ competition judges tasked to find the best young entrepreneurs to join the pack,” said Allen.

High school sophomores, juniors and seniors from DCED’s 12-county University Center program were eligible to enter the challenge. To prepare, schools were granted access to university assets and expertise. This included an A-State faculty member to mentor students by providing guidance and feedback on their ideas.

“The main goal of this program is to spur a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation among our youth,” said Allen. “Introducing these young people to the resources that we have on campus to help take their big ideas to the next level has been exciting for all of us.”

The competition was conducted over two rounds. The first round was held from Sep. 26-Nov. 5 on the school level. Students submitted three-minute videos to pitch their ideas. They also created business and marketing plans that were submitted to their schools. Each school chose one winner from their student entries to move forward to the final round.

This final round included a marketing plan pitch before a live audience and, most importantly, the judges. Winners from the competition include students from all four schools that participated.
First place went to the team from Cross County High School and their project “OneCut.” Their product is an innovative cutting board made for those who are partially paralyzed or are experiencing limited mobility.

Second place winners from Buffalo Island Central pitched an idea for “Birdsong Peanut App.” This phone app would enable peanut farmers in the 13 states where Birdsong processing facilities are located to track and deliver their products more accurately and effectively.

Jonesboro High School students took home third place with their app “Jonesboro Experience.” This app would allow users to report issues to be more involved in the community by reporting issues to local government, learn about community events, obtain discounts from local retailers and more.

The honorable mention from this competition went to Hoxie High School and their micro game tracker “The Seeker,” which allows hunters to track their game more efficiently.