For a thousand dollars, investors could help a group of Lincoln High School students add spice to life. At least, that’s the idea that six students calling themselves by the group name of Gabble shared with a parade of listeners during a Shark Tank program at the school on May 3.

Modeled after the “Shark Tank” TV show, in which people try to get potential investors to spend money on developing their ideas into new products and services, Lincoln’s activity had more than 60 students presenting ideas they had been developing since the annual Passion Week in January, said teacher Kevin Munchel. 

Fifteen student groups presented their ideas to fellow students in the morning and to community members in the afternoon.

The students in Gabble approached Mark Miller as he walked by their stand, asking if he likes bland food. When he said no, they hooked him in for a several-minute discussion of their idea for a new kind of mixed dried product made from spices they would grow mixed with others they’d need to buy.

Miller, who leads a nonprofit supported by a for-profit company, said he is intrigued by the ideas he heard during Shark Tank. He is pleased that students are learning about how to develop their ideas and present them to the public early in life. 

In his own life, he has found that new concepts are often actually just improvements on an older product or service.

Many students presented ideas that could change school life.

Sophomore Gavin Lowe and freshman Justin Driskill suggested adding student “pathways” at LMHS. They surveyed fellow students about their classes and found many aren’t passionate about them. 

To remedy this, they suggested adding classes such as home ec because “it teaches a lot of basics,” Lowe said. They realize that adding to the school program requires investment: $15,000 to $25,000 per program and perhaps $55,000 to $75,000 for facility renovation.

Another group — Carson Hawk, Evan Stuckey, Jack Patton and Oliver Webb — advocated for a Lincoln sports podcast. Using social media, they would recap all LMHS sports contests, preview upcoming schedules, interview coaches and athletes, and so on. They predicted an initial investment of $3,000 for microphones, headphones, computers and other equipment. They’d sell sponsorships to raise money and would work for free, using surplus funds to buy better equipment.

Caden Ripberger, Desmond Bex and Matthew Marcum explain their idea for a Social Day to a group of fellow Lincoln Middle / High School students during Shark Tank. Photo by Bob Hansen

Job shadowing would be the focus for yet another group, including Brayden Hampton, Joshua Gibson, Carl Vickers and Sam Bogue. They want to add more opportunities for students to work outside of school. “Our main goal is to help students figure out what they want their careers to be,” according to a handout they gave to listeners. Not only would that give students a chance to decide on a career, but it might show them jobs they do not want to do.

A group calling itself Walk a Mile In Our Shoes suggested something similar, real-life learning, such as how to handle checking accounts and mortgages.

LMHS principal Renee Lakes said Shark Tank gave the students a chance to become more involved in shaping their lives.

“The kids, when you listen to them, have a lot of really good ideas. If we can help guide them, their ideas can come to fruition, and that can make a big impact on the school and the community,” she said.

Munchel credits the entire school staff for working with students on their ideas.

“I would like to think that all of the projects presented today will be attempted in some way, shape, or form. Many of the group’s ideas have already led to conversations about how we can incorporate them in our current programs and how we could change to meet their ideas/needs. … I think it’s exciting that students feel empowered to make positive changes … It’s hard not to think many of the groups will have an impact with that in mind.”

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A version of this article appeared in the May 10 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Bob Hansen is a reporter for the Western Wayne News.