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Businesses have questions; students have answers

The folks from the front office of the Down East Wood Duck, Kinston’s minor league baseball team, got the pitch they were looking for from LCPS students whose summer school assignment was to find solutions to problems identified by local businesses.

 Three high school students and three adults talk around a table.“They really had some great ideas,” Jon Clemmons, general manager of the Wood Ducks, said Thursday after hearing two teams of Kinston High students pitch their ideas for attracting more fans in the 14-to-20-year-old demographic to the ballpark. “Both groups gave some awesome examples that we’ll be able to implement in coming years.”

The KHS students were among a group of 30 students from four LCPS high schools taking part in the Teamship Internship program, which LCPS offered in cooperation with the business-oriented nonprofit District C. Teamship gave students the opportunity to problem-solve with – and for – businesses as diverse as the Wood Ducks, Chick-fil-A, Pactiv Evergreen and Lenoir Community College. Along the way, they honed their teamwork, communication and organizational skills – the kinds of skills that predict success in business.

And they came up with some pretty cool solutions.

“We believe we’re going to solve this problem by creating a campaign to increase marketing, advertising and sales by giving the targeted age group a fun, safe environment and sense of hometown pride that will result in getting more Wood Ducks fans,” student Sienna Stallings told the Wood Ducks staff in her team’s presentation, backed by informational slides and prototypes of social media posts.

How exactly? An internship program, regular high school band nights at the ballpark, a scavenger hunt and a much-enlarged social media presence, particularly on TikTok and Instagram with the featured hashtag #DEWD Got Moves – Dewd being the Wood Ducks’ on-field mascot.

The Kinston High students divided the Wood Ducks exercise into two segments. “Group 1 worked on in-person things, things to do in the stadium, and we worked on the social media aspect,” said Horace Smith, who teamed up with Sienna Stallings and Moriah Flowers in the second group.

Both groups spent time with the Wood Ducks staff at Grainger Stadium – a visit that “gave us good insight on the problem,” Horace said – and both teams came away from the pitch sessions Thursday with the feeling that Clemmons, Wood Ducks creative services coordinator Will Treadaway and marketing manager Maddy Meehan took them seriously.

“I really do feel like they’ll use our ideas,” Sienna said.

30-something man with dark hair smiles as he listens to students talk.“This was applicable, real-life problem solving,” Clemmons said. “Obviously, they had a great time but for us it’s something we can apply and see results.”

Students in the Group 1 team focused on the Wood Ducks issue were Adrianna Wood, Jasmine Reynolds, Morgan Gaskill and Zana Newton. Seven more KHS students tackled a problem surfaced by Chick-fil-A: how to better recruit and retain high school students for employment; those Teamship students were Nyjae Gilliam, Shyae Hood, Jada Sutton, Kamari Outlaw, Jocelyn Morales, Keasia Sheppard and S’Koryria King.

A first for LCPS, Teamship was offered as part of a multi-faceted summer learning program, one segment of which focused on career exploration. Teamship students from Kinston, North Lenoir and South Lenoir high schools and Lenoir County Early College High School spent the last two weeks of July researching and creating solutions to their business’ problems. Earlier, their teacher leaders had spent about five weeks in training through District C “to teach kids problem-solving skills, teamwork skills, business relation skills,” said Nichole Hathaway, administrator of this summer’s Career Accelerator session, of which Teamship was a part.

“I think it’s pretty awesome these students had the opportunity to work with a business partner in Lenoir County and have the chance to solve real problems,” Hathaway said. “This is one of the coolest things they’ll do all summer.”

Photo captions (from top):

Kinston High students, from left, Horace Smith, Moriah Flowers and Sienna Stallings make a pitch for an increased social media presence to the front office team for the Down East Wood Ducks during a Teamship presentation that capped a two-week summer learning session in which students partnered with local businesses to find solutions to real-life problems.

Jon Clemmons, general manager of the Down East Wood Ducks, listens to suggestions for bringing more teenage fans to the ballpark during a presentation by Kinston High students participating in this summer’s Teamship program.