Teens from across the Lake Washington School District participated in the Teen CEO competition. Back row, from left: Kate Atvars, Amy Hedin, Jerred Kelley, Roger Blier, Angela Marks, Dan Phelan and Katie Searle. Front row, from left: Teen CEO Third-place winner Aarushi Bhatnagar, first-place winners Adriana Rush and Indra Toepke. Not Pictured: Second-plaec winner Anne Lee. Courtesy Photo

Students participate in Teen CEO competition

Entrepreneurial ambitions don’t necessarily wait for someone to become an adult or graduate from college.

As a way to recognize this, the Lake Washington School District (LWSD) has held Teen CEO every year since 2014. The annual competition is similar to the entrepreneurial reality television show “Shark Tank” and features students representing their own businesses.

Kate Atvars, who is a career and technical education program specialist for the district and headed up organizing Teen CEO, said the event is judged by community business leaders who are passionate about helping students fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams.

“Teen CEO provides students the opportunity to demonstrate essential career skills, such as creative thinking, problem solving, collaboration, personal responsibility, resiliency and work ethic,” she said.

This year’s competition featured students from about half a dozen schools — three of whom were from Kirkland schools and earned honorable mentions.

Dante Ludlow, owner and operator of Dante’s Deals, is from Juanita High School. Through his online store, he sells a variety of new and nearly new items such as specialty sneakers and Pokémon cards.

Emerson High School student Abigail Prendergast is the founder and CEO of Show Me! ASL, an app that helps consumers know if they are signing correctly in American Sign Language.

And Unite CEO Sami Baghan attends Lake Washington High School. His business is a user-friendly app that helps with making new friends and event planning.

First place for the Teen CEO competition went to Magic Carrot Candles by Adriana Rush, Indra Toepke and Ashley Sellers of Tesla STEM High School. The group also received the Rita Smith Award, which is named for the woman who started Teen CEO.

The teens’ company was founded on Jan. 28, 2015, and their tag line is “Nerdy Customizable Soy Candles.”

According to their Teen CEO application, their company is part of a “growing fandom candle industry,” meaning the candles they sell are designed and created to smell like a person, place or thing from a movie, TV show or book.

“For example, our Peter Pan candle smells like forests of cedar and pine, with hints of the ocean and pineapple to hint at magic and adventure,” they wrote.

Magic Carrot caters to popular fandoms such as the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings series but according to their application, the company is more popular for their “unique, modern candles,” such as their line of YouTuber candles based on popular YouTube users and personalities.

This was the group’s second time presenting in Teen CEO after learning about the competition through their teachers and counselors. They placed second last year.

Second place went to Anne Lee, also from STEM, and her business, Mission Happy Land. Third place went to WIFI4Guest by Aarushi Baghnagar from Redmond High School.

The remaining honorable mentions were: Cedar Robotics by Caleb John and Denis Chelan from STEM and FOKUS by Sarah Tarta of STEM.

Winners received monetary awards, which ranged from $200-3,000. Atvars said the amounts they receive varies every year.

In addition to the students presenting their products, she said LWSD Superintendent Dr. Traci Pierce spoke and their guest speaker, Jenni Butz from WordSpark.com, also gave an “inspiring talk about professional communication.”


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