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McCandless 'boot camp' preps pupils for business bout

| Thursday, May 22, 2008

Brett Hahalyak has reached the top level of dance instruction at the Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA).

If he uses his talent to someday open a dance studio, he would be running a business, a task that requires skills entirely different from those of an accomplished dancer.

"Managing a business is something that's the last thing on the minds of high school students, especially students at a school dedicated to performing arts," said Rita Baettner, who teaches a new introduction to entrepreneurship course at CAPA.

Hahalyak is one of four students from CAPA preparing for a May 28 competition with the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship at Duquesne University. He was one of more than a dozen students from area high schools to participate in a "Boot Camp" event to practice for the competition at A. W. Beattie Career Center in McCandless.

The students develop business plans over the school year. The plans must meet the loan requirements of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Hahalyak plans to open a dance studio called Showcase Yourself that would be devoted to training high school seniors who want to audition for college dance programs.

"There are not a lot of places that do that. Some charge too much money," Hahalyak said.

Another CAPA student, Alisha Bender, who studies voice at the school, set up a company called Wedding Duo, which provides music for weddings.

"A lot people never think of wedding music or just play a recording. Music creates the mood at a wedding, and lots people regret not planning the music more than they do," Bender said.

About 500 Pittsburgh area students have participated in the entrepreneurship program this year.

The students at Beattie were coached by volunteers from companies such as FedEx and Dominion People's Gas.

"I don't think entrepreneurship is really stressed enough in high schools. These kids are getting an early start," said Juan Garrett, director of the North Side's Riverside Center For Innovation, a small business incubator.

Mike Golya, 17, and Brianna Procacina, 18, seniors at CIS Academy in Pleasant Hills whose project was a tattoo shop, met with Garrett.

"Very nice design on this ad," he said. "But you really need the shop's location to be right up front."

The entrepreneurship foundation is based in New York and was founded in 1987. About 186,000 students have participated in the organization's programs.

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