Students get down to business for annual Enterprise Awards

Overall winners, Me�n Scoil Mhuire's Luna Jewellery. Marie Butler, Anita Griffin, Edel Whitney, Anna Olesti, Martina Glennon, Michael Nevin, Nicola McManus, Rose McKenna (Ulster Bank) Photo: Shelley Corcoran
With their products dreamt up, designed and marketed; business plans written and stalls decorated, Longford’s students were out in force last Thursday for the annual Co Longford Student Enterprise Awards.

With their products dreamt up, designed and marketed; business plans written and stalls decorated, Longford’s students were out in force last Thursday for the annual Co Longford Student Enterprise Awards.

Selected mini-businesses from Longford schools showcased their hard work for an afternoon in the Longford Shopping Centre, all vying to represent Longford in the national final in Croke Park in April.

There was a special kind of buzz in the shopping centre as the event got underway. Interested passers-by stopped to enquire about products and make purchases of the unique goods on sale - from dog treats to guitar picks to wooden do-it-yourself products. Though of course there was plenty of competition, the students banded together to support each other, meanwhile, the judges inspected each stand, interviewing the students behind each business and examining each product.A delegation from Mexico also visited the event, and were said to have been extremely impressed by what they saw.

Thanking all involved in organising the day, Michael Nevin, Head of Local Enterprise, told the crowd gathered that he was extremely impressed with the effort put in and the skills shown.

“We can only send forward one winner, but as they say, you’re all winners today,” he added.

With six prizes up for grabs, there were many happy faces leaving the event. Best Display went to ‘Cloud Nine Cosmetics’ from Meán Scoil Mhuire, with their colourful, neat display and packaging for their soaps and lip balms. Moyne Community School walked away with an award for Best Report for ‘Make This With Me’, a range of flat-pack, natural wood products aimed at parents and children.

Explaining that the judges were extremely impressed with the level of self-confidence displayed throughout the day, Mr Nevin then announced ‘Pic It’ from Cnoc Mhuire, Granard, as winners of the ‘Best Interview’ award. Six students; Sinéad Finnegan, Aideen Campbell, Rachel Stokes, Deirdre McAndrew, Sarah Smyth and Ciara Keyes, created a novel solution to the issue of guitar picks falling into guitars.

Managing Director Sinéad Finnegan, who teaches music herself, explained that it was a problem she encountered with her students regularly. Using magnets, the students have found a way to not only easily retrieve the picks, but to prevent them from falling in the first place, thanks to the added grip of the magnet. It also makes them easier to store.

“We’re over the moon,” Sinéad said of the award, before Sales and Marketing Manager Rachel Stokes added “we’re very happy that all the hard work paid off in the end!”

In third place was a group whose well-presented stall almost made them a contender for Best Display; ‘Frame Your Family’ by Mercy Secondary School Ballymahon. Second prize went to Meán Scoil Mhuire’s ‘Bow Wow Treats’.

It was a hugely successful day for the Longford Convent, as they also walked away with the top prize thanks to Edel Whitney and Anna Olesti’s mini-business ‘Luna Jewellery’.

“This is my fifteenth year doing this competition and this is the most excited winners we’ve had,” Mr Nevin smiled, as the girls celebrated their victory.

He later went on to add that the event was a worthwhile one, stating that the projects “teach [the students] life skills, in terms of working in a team, and working skills that will stand to them in years to come”.

Still excited by their success, Edel and Anna revealed that they were not expecting to win.

Their unique jewellery, made from nespresso capsules, was a huge hit with judges and passers by alike.

A native of Spain, Anna told the Leader that she used to make jewellery with her sister when she was young. As for using the nespresso capsules, Anna continued, “My Grandma uses a lot of them so why throw them in the bin when you can recycle them or do something with them?”

The girls will now travel to Croke Park on April 22 to represent Longford in the Student Enterprise Awards National Final.

“We’re so excited,” Edel smiled. “It’s amazing.”

Shopping Centre Manager Jim Behan had plenty of praise for the students, stating that the students’ projects get better as the years go by. Adding that it’s an excellent experience for the teenagers Mr Behan continued, “We’re always proud to have them here.”

Concluding by thanking the staff and traders of Longford Shopping Centre, Mr Behan smiled, “We’re all looking forward to next year!”