At the Chagrin Falls Board of Education meeting on June 5th, two organizations were recognized with the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) “Business Honor Roll” award for their partnership with the Chagrin Falls Schools. These two organizations were The Gertsburg Law Firm Co., LPA and the Veale Youth Entrepreneurship Forum.
Attorney Alex Gertsburg believes the skill of writing a concise argument, supported with evidence and reason, can be the difference in the outcome of a court case in his profession. Two years ago, he wanted high school students to have the opportunity to draft solutions to a problem in a succinct exposition, which drove his desire to start an essay contest.
Gertsburg didn’t just develop an essay contest, pass out flyers, and award a winner like many organizations do regularly. Instead, he engaged two high school communities in a project to develop a writing experience that would be meaningful to students and that could actually offer solutions to issues facing students and their schools. Over the course of several months he met with educators from Kenston High School and Chagrin Falls High School to identify a problem students were facing, collaborate on how to introduce the contest, develop a system for collecting essays, and determine ways to recognize winners. He then engaged businesses, attorneys, and organizations in Northeast Ohio to sponsor prizes and score essays. What resulted was a well-run essay contest for two high schools that recognized 16 students along with money donated to each school to implement the proposed solutions of the winning students. For many this would be a success, something that could be replicated the following year and continue to be a success for years to come, but Alex saw this as something that other schools and students could benefit from.
In the 2016-17 school year, he added additional high schools, reached out to more sponsors, and increased the prize pool all while continuing his collaboration with schools to identify a new problem for teens to address with their essays. “Alex Gertsburg and his firm have done an exceptional job of engaging the school communities surrounding their business and adding a meaningful learning experience to students,” said Superintendent Robert Hunt, Chagrin Falls Schools. “It is for these reasons that the Gertsburg Law Firm deserves recognition through the OSBA Honor Roll.”
The Veale Youth Entrepreneurship Forum provided a $10,000 grant to Chagrin Falls High School for all students to develop an entrepreneurial mindset through participation in amazing experiences. Provided through a collaborative network of educators and business leaders, the Forum champions exceptional education and real-world experiences in entrepreneurship.
The school competition at Chagrin Falls High School, supported by the Forum, was held in December 2016. Fifteen ideas were presented with one student, Alex Amata, having the opportunity to compete at Case Western Reserve University in April at the Veale Venture Challenge. Students also attended Thinkfest at John Carroll University and the Veale Pitchfest at Baldwin Wallace University. “The Veale Youth Entrepreneurship Forum at Case Western Reserve University was another first-rate competition that helped me refine my presentation skills and develop a greater understanding of the many opportunities in the business world,” said Amata. “The Veale Foundation and the Chagrin Falls High School business program does a great job providing a platform for students to express and explore new entrepreneurial ventures, and I am honored to have had this experience.”