Teenage Tycoons

A lesson in entrepreneurship in Virginia’s high schools.

Two Lukes’ Kombucha at Roanoke Valley Governor’s School.

Photo by Erica Yoon / courtesy of The Roanoke Times

As a great way for students to use their imaginations and learn skills that will serve them the rest of their lives, entrepreneurship is a hot topic in education. A few Virginia schools are demonstrating how much this experience can enrich students’ education.

The Steward School, a private high school in Richmond, is in the third year of its entrepreneurship studies program. The program blends studying economics, business, and marketing with opportunities for collaboration with experienced entrepreneurs and summer internships. Students have been working on creating a pop-up pantry that involves nonprofits and food entrepreneurs from the community. This project allows students to combine their business experience with learning about food issues, both close to home and more broadly. Starting this past spring, students were able to graduate with an entrepreneurship endorsement as well. 

If you’re near Sweet Donkey Coffee in Roanoke, check out Lukes’ Kombucha, locally made by two high school students, Luke Gardner and Luke Suess, who are now seniors at the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School for Science and Technology. When their freshman year science fair project that used kombucha to halt the growth of E. coli won them a cash prize, Gardner and Suess used it to reinvest in themselves and turn their project into a business. Their kombucha sold so well that they needed space in a commercial kitchen to satisfy demand. Luckily, they were able to use the kitchen at Sweet Donkey, where their brews are for sale in flavors like Herbal Eclipse and Fruit and Root. 


For more about The Steward School or Roanoke Valley Governor’s School, check out Top High Schools and Colleges 2019. This article originally appeared in our October 2019 issue.

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