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McHenry High School District 156 launches INCubatoredu course, opens new lab space

Donations funded $50K lab for the program’s students

McHenry High School senior Tyler Prickett talks about the school's incubator program during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at McHenry High School West Campus on Friday.
McHenry High School senior Tyler Prickett talks about the school's incubator program during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at McHenry High School West Campus on Friday.

McHenry School District 156 has launched a new program that will allow students to gain hands-on business and entrepreneurship experience.

The INCubatoredu capstone course lets students come up with ideas for problem-solving apps and products. Teams of students then develop business plans and learn about marketing, product design and the financial aspects of the project. Students will work with business leaders in the community on various aspects of their projects.

McHenry High School officials, students and people in the city’s business community attended an open house Friday for the program’s new “innovation lab” classroom at McHenry High School West Campus. The classroom features computers, collaboration and meeting space. Its $50,000 creation was funded by donations.

“This space represents dynamic, innovative, engaging curricular opportunities and real-world opportunities for our students,” Superintendent Ryan McTague said. “It represents state-of-the-art technology and 21st-century learning environments. But most importantly, it represents the lasting bond and connection our business and community partners have with our school district for the benefit of our students.”

Course instructor Tim Kirk and Career and Technology Education Division chairwoman Karyn Burmeister underwent summer training before the launch of the course, which has 18 students this year.

“To see students in the work space, teachers working with those kids and kids collaborating has just been amazing,” Burmeister said.

Kirk said this was the kind of class he “left the business world for.”

“I feel very prepared. We have a great group of students,” he said. “This is the highlight of my day. I can’t wait to start every morning.”

McHenry High School East Campus senior Tyler Prickett said he was intrigued by the course and decided to take it because of the real-world application possibilities.

“Once I started learning about this class and realized you were actually going out and meeting these people – this is real-life stuff – I got super excited,” Prickett said. “Especially since I already have some ideas.”

Crystal Lake-based District 155, Woodstock District 200 and Harvard District 50 also offer INCubatoredu programs.

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