When asked about the entrepreneurship class she taught at Liberty Bell High School in early 2020, Rebecca Lundquist recently summed it up by saying, “Everything halted right before the exhibition was supposed to happen, which was such a bummer.” It’s a bummer, indeed, that the innovative 2020 class was overshadowed by COVID. Though it operated on a different scale than COVID, the entrepreneurship class was life changing in its own way.
Lundquist developed the class based on an online curriculum called Youth Entrepreneurs. “The idea was that students from the beginning would learn the basic concepts of entrepreneurship and what goes into the idea for a business and then a business plan.”
Eventually the Liberty Bell class may become part of a career pathway program. Lundquist said, “It was in a five year plan that we would actually offer entrepreneurship as an intro class for freshmen and sophomores, and then if they were really interested… there would be a hospitality track, where they take a food class and a business finance class and build on their interest in having a culinary job or maybe they would take a textiles class and a business class and think of a career in fashion.”
Back in 2020 Lundquist collaborated with TwispWorks Program Director Julie Tate-Libby to add guest speakers and tours of empty buildings in Twisp to the class. Tate-Libby coordinated eight guest speakers that included business owners such as Jim Salter of Black Cap Construction, Abilene Hagee of Trail’s End Bookstore, Jonathan Baker of eqpd, and Julie Muyllaert of Winthrop Cycle & Sports. Lundquist called these Friday conversations one of the key takeaways for students. “There were so many businesses who were available and willing to… answer questions and that was a big eye opener for students.”
Tate-Libby also arranged for the students to tour several empty buildings in Twisp. Prior to the tour, students prepared mock business proposals for the empty spaces. Glacier Gilbertson, now an ILC Junior, remembers this part of the class from when she was a freshman at Liberty Bell: “My favorite part of the class was definitely going around town and looking at different buildings because not only are you able to have your own ideas about what possibilities there are for the area, but you get to hear other people’s ideas too.”
Had everything gone as planned, the students also would have presented their proposals to the public. That’s when COVID brought the exhibition to a halt.
Nonetheless 25 students in grades nine through twelve had already prepared their business plans. Ideas ranged from an outdoor movie theatre in the empty lot next to The Merc Playhouse to a Vietnamese restaurant in the old Blackbirds building. In addition, students learned real life business skills that may one day help these students start a business.
Was it life changing? Gilbertson said, “I learned that to be a good entrepreneur you need to be very confident in yourself. Back then when I took the class, I wasn’t very good at talking confidently and openly, so I had to really push myself to speak up and think: Yes, this is what I’m really good at and here’s what I can contribute to this group.”
– Sierra Golden, Associate Director with reporting by Lucy Tobiska, ILC Student