Research, public speaking required classes at Poland

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POLAND – Wearing dress pants and a shirt and tie, David Dubois gave a PowerPoint presentation Thursday on how to start a successful business.

The Poland Regional High School senior had spent the year researching his chosen topic for the “Senior Celebration of Learning.”

Students at the school can’t graduate without it.

This year’s research topics were varied. They included how to tour Europe cheaply, how to plan a wedding, how to correct a golf swing, how to eat well for under $10 a day, how to restore a ’72 Ford Mustang and how to become an undercover drug agent or police officer.

The goal is to give students life skills, said Principal Bill Doughty. Successful citizens need to be able to intelligently present themselves during interviews or meetings. Students also learn to separate facts from spin.

“Kids need to know how to wade their way through research,” Doughty said.

Students often pick topics that they’re considering as careers. “I see myself in a suit someday,” Dubois said. He first began to picture himself owning a business at age 8 or 9. Next year he’ll study business in college.

During his lecture Dubois shared what’s necessary for a successful business, which includes having:

• A good advertising campaign. Consumers need to see your ad seven times before they’ll think about your product.

• An understanding of who your potential customers are.

• A business plan projecting expenses and income, almost to the penny.

• Passion about what you’re selling.

“The worst mistake you can make is selling something you’re not passionate about,” Dubois said. Don’t try to sell tires or parts if you don’t like cars.

There are pros and cons about owning your own business, he said.

Becoming an entrepreneur allows you to be your own boss, set your own schedule and progress at your own pace. But there’s no guaranteed income, you’ll never know how much you’ll bring home and you’ll have debt.

Owning a business is not for someone who isn’t organized, self-motivated, creative, hardworking, optimistic and realistic. Sometimes the lines blur on the last two, Dubois said.

In another classroom, Katie Simpson presented her findings on how to collect evidence from a crime scene. She plans to study forensic science next year at the University of New Haven.

Like baking a cake, there are specific steps when analyzing a crime scene. “You can’t skip steps or the end results won’t be proper,” Simpson said. As she spoke, she stood behind a table featuring yellow crime-scene tape and fingerprint visuals.

When analyzing a crime scene, experts interview police officers and witnesses who were there, examining their theories of what happened. The scene is photographed. Sketches are drawn, if there is a body, of the position of the body.

The best evidence is physical, which can contain DNA or fingerprints. Simpson said she learned a lot about fingerprints. “No two people in the world have the same fingerprints, not even twins. The patterns are all different.”

Simpson said she’s long been interested in crime-scene evidence as a career. Her project solidified her decision, she said.

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