High School Students Showcase Their Entrepreneurial Spirit | The Vineyard Gazette

For Ali Barlett’s Ravioli Empire, it all started last Christmas Eve, when she was making pasta with her family.

“We were talking about turning it into a business, and we were like, wow, we could just make raviolis. We could make piles and heaps of raviolis, it could be like an empire.”

The next step for the regional high school senior was a lot of hard work. Thankfully, she could do a lot of it in school.

Emma Kristal’s Coffee Boat is a full service, floating breakfast outfit. — Mark Lovewell
Ali’s Ravioli Empire is one of a 25 senior Capstone projects. The projects run the gamut from artistic endeavors to experimental research on gender stereotypes to a job placement service. The Capstone program lasts the duration of the second semester of senior year. Students dedicate three class blocks in their schedule to the pursuit of a passion. The process culminates in a research paper and presentation.

This year, many senior projects featured an entrepreneurial aspect.

One project, Daniel Gaines’ Sea Blue Company, is a fully operational online recruitment platform for entry-level positions. After having trouble finding internships on the Vineyard, Daniel came up with the idea to create a centralized platform for entry-level postings. His site shares job postings with educational institutions and other job boards to expand the networks of firms that are looking to hire. Currently, Daniel has collaborations with 71 colleges and universities, and he hopes to expand the business further as he continues to work on it in college.

He described the senior project as an invaluable experience that “teaches you certain skills that no class could ever teach.”

Jonas Lukowitz shows his artistic side. — Mark Lovewell
Four students are pursuing fashion-related business: Natalija Lakis produced a line of reflective pajamas intended to aid emergency responders in locating people in the event of a house fire, Eddie Rosado developed Bluff Clothing, which sells T-shirts and hats, Madison Csapo-Moreis designed Suits for the Sea, a line of swimwear she plans to sell, and Mary Morano created her own fashion line, Nori Clothing.

Food-related businesses were also popular this year. Through Ravioli Empire, Ali has navigated the ins and outs of getting licensed to sell her product, worked on sales and marketing and developed recipes through her senior project. Her love for pasta has more substance than just its al dente chew: “Growing up, my nana and papa have always made homemade pasta and ravioli for special holidays, and so now the fact that I get to do it really makes me feel connected to them.”

Emma Kristal also drew inspiration from food and family for her senior project. Emma’s Coffee Boat is a full service, floating breakfast outfit.

Eddie Rosado has the T-shirt and hat market cornered. — Mark Lovewell
“My dad is a really good chef and he taught me how to cook since I was little, and I like to cook,” she said. “I live right up the street from the water, and I’ve always loved the beach, always wanted to get my boating license, so it just kind of fit together.”

Emma conceived of the business last summer and test-ran it for two-and-a-half weeks. She has devoted her senior project to preparing for the coming season. From Memorial Day onward, Emma will motor around on a nine-and-a-half-foot WaterTender in Tisbury Harbor. When hunger strikes, seafarers can wave her over, text or call in their orders.

Emma said working on her Coffee Boat as a senior project offered “resources inside of the school to talk about it and ask questions and get help.”

But some issues don’t have easy solutions. “When it’s wavy and I stand up, sometimes I can almost fall out,” she said.

Senior project participants will deliver presentations on their experiences from May 15 to May 26. A full schedule of presentations is available on the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School website.

Ali suggested that everyone come hungry as she will provide samples.

Daniel Gaines

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