Petition for business class results in proposal

October 12, 2018 — by Alex Wang and Callia Yuan

Junior successfully petitions school to propose a business class at SHS.

Currently, the only slightly business-related class that students can take is less than one semester of Economics under the senior-exclusive Government/Econ course. Meanwhile, other schools in the area, such as Lynbrook and Monta Vista, offer a variety of business classes, ranging from principles of business to accounting to marketing.

This is largely due to the fact that Lynbrook and Monta Vista have much larger school populations, with around 1,800 and 2,400 students, respectively. Saratoga has roughly 1,350 students, making it more difficult to garner enough student sign-ups to sustain a new class.

Even so, junior Brian Zhu thinks a business class can succeed. He created a petition on and posted it in the school Facebook group on Sept. 10, asking the school to add a business class. As of Oct. 8, the petition had received 137 signatures.

“We literally have no business classes at our school,” Zhu said. “I’m trying to be a business major, but our school doesn’t have anything to help me learn business, so I wanted to add a business class. I think that a lot of people in the school have an interest in business, and I’m not the only that wants this class.”

This led to the creation of the petition, through which Zhu hopes to show that the student body supports his idea. After many students signed, a process has started that may result in a new class next year.

As a result of Zhu’s efforts, the course, Introduction to Business, is currently moving forward, assistant principal Brian Safine said. To open up the course for student sign-ups in February, the course must be approved by the school leadership team consisting of department heads, and then by the school board. The presentation of the business course to the school leadership team is scheduled for November.

The class would be taught by physics teacher Kirk Davis and mirror the Introduction to Business class he last taught when he was hired in 2007. Students eventually lost interest in that class when the school began allowing upperclassmen to double up in science courses. More science periods were added because of this new policy, and students ended up choosing to take an extra science class over a business class.

Despite a lack of business classes, business clubs, such as Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) and LaunchX, still have a presence on campus. However, a class brings much more to the table for students, Zhu said. Clubs generally require students to self-study business principles and learn a lot of the material on their own.

Students who already have numerous extracurriculars may not be able to find time to study for competitions like FBLA or build their own business like in LaunchX. On the other hand, a class gives grades, which motivate students to study and learn, and allows them to learn from someone more knowledgeable and experienced.

Zhu’s interest in business began in middle school when he took an entrepreneurship class at Miller Middle School.

“The world of business was always interesting to me,” Zhu said. “It’s the possibility of doing something that actually impacts other people. At the same time, you can also learn how the world generally works, especially because everything today is so heavily influenced by money.”

His interest continued into high school, but he hasn’t had a clear path toward his goals. He recalls an experience in his freshman year when he tried to participate in DECA, a business competition similar to FBLA where students put their business knowledge to use. He said that he was denied because the school did not have a benchmark business class, preventing the creation of a school DECA club.

Additionally, he needed to self-study for the AP Macroeconomics and AP Microeconomics exams because there was no class for him to learn the material.

The impetus for Zhu’s petition came when he talked with his friends at Lynbrook, who told him of another student at a different school who successfully pushed the school to offer a course through petitioning.

Zhu talked to Safine before making the petition about the process of creating a new class, who informed Zhu on how they decide on course offerings.

“[To offer a course], we ideally have a match between student interest and teacher interest,” Safine said. “The ultimate gauge of student interest is when we present a course in  February and students either sign up or they don’t.”

Another show of student interest is a petition, Safine said, and Zhu’s petition demonstrates this. The current business class petition may follow what happened in 2012 with AP European History; a petition to bring the course back led to the reinstatement of that course.

If the class comes to fruition, Davis said he wants the class to be limited to upperclassmen, with the curriculum ultimately accumulating into students’ putting together a business plan for an idea of a company.

“[The final project] has to include everything you’d expect to see in a business plan, so if students are going to manufacture something they need an operations plan, a way to finance it, a managing team, marketing and sales, profit and loss,” Davis said. “During the course, we'd learn about all those components of the business enterprise.”

Ultimately, Zhu wishes for the class to give more exposure to students who are interested in business.

“Business clubs, no matter how much time you really put into it, is not going to be as much as you put into a class,” Zhu said. “A class allows the teacher to teach, which is unique in that way that no club can bring.”

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