Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Saturday, April 21, 2018

nwc vie team a webMembers of winning team celebrates with panel of judges at Northwest Catholic High School in West Hartford.

WEST HARTFORD – When the seniors in Matt Martorelli’s and Paul Fitzpatrick’s economics classes at Northwest Catholic High School first entered the classroom this year, they had no idea that they would be trying to help cure cancer. And they certainly didn’t know that they would be starting their own businesses.

But that’s exactly what happened.

Now, Northwest Catholic has announced the winners of its inaugural “vie for the kids” business competition. The team of Jeff Augustowski of Farmington, Mary Elizabeth Budnic of Canton, Darius Cygler of New Britain, Jon Granata of Windsor, Lauren Italia of Rocky Hill, Emily Kalinski of New Britain and Tony Shi of Bloomfield raised more than $1,400 selling branded sunglasses and operating a car wash to develop additional seed money.

During final presentations to a panel of business leaders, the team was praised for its organization, ability to work together and execution of its business plan. All teams were judged on their creativity, collaboration and financial results.

 “It’s one thing talking about a business plan in the classroom,” said Miss Budnick, a member of the winning team. “But actually putting our plan into action is unbelievable – I learned so much about real business through this process.”

Paul Shapiro, a partner at vie, the company that created “vie for the kids,” said that’s because the students have  much more to consider

 “These students are considering their target audience, marketing messages, financial projections, resource deployment and all of the other things that are so critical to starting a successful business. These young students are bright, full of energy and truly believe they can change the world. What they’re accomplishing is amazing, but after meeting these participants, it’s not surprising.”

The idea for the competition started when “vie for the kids” founder and chairman Paul Shapiro wanted to help give the students an experience that will prepare them for the real world and also provide an opportunity for them to better understand social responsibility.

“These are talented young adults and they are going to have an opportunity to give back to their communities in a big way,” said Matt Martorelli, the high school’s athletic director and one of the faculty leaders of the competition. “Showing how they can build a successful business and the importance of helping others at the same time is going to really pay off for them and for their communities one day.”

After winning the competition, the team members spoke about the challenges of selling their product to people outside of the school community and how they learned to adapt to different situations and obstacles that they faced throughout the competition.

The competition began in late February. Seven teams, all seniors studying economics, were guided through the process of developing a business plan, with seed money serving as an investment for each team to help them get their ideas off the ground. Along the way, the teams had an adult mentor to help them launch their ideas into action and turned those dollars into something much greater. They also received feedback from local business leaders in March as they launched their plans.

“This experience is in complete alignment with our educational mission to cultivate versatile leaders, said Northwest Catholic president and chief administrator David Eustis. “We seek out opportunities like this to provide powerful, experiential opportunities for our students to learn outside of the traditional curriculum.”

The proceeds from all the groups, approximately $7,500, will benefit the Clinical Trials Program at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.

Enrollment for Northwest Catholic’s class of 2020 is now under way. For more information, contact Andrew Selig at 860-236-4221, ext. 140, or