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Teacher brings ‘Shark Tank’ to Henrico classroom

HENRICO COUNTY, Va.  -  It’s go time at Hungary Creek Middle School. Eighth graders Isabella, Cameron, Madeline and Haley have been working hard on a new product called "The Hit Stick!"

But will "The Hit Stick!" be a hit with the judges?

In a presentation reminiscent of the TV show "Shark Tank", the students in Mr. Jason Vest’s class are trying to sell a product they've designed themselves.

"It's really about them seizing opportunity,” Mr. Vest said. “Too often we focus on what's in front of us, but what I've tried to do is create a class where kids can think outside the box."

Jason Vest

Mr. Vest's "Innovation Class" is the only one of its kind in Henrico County Schools.

It’s a blend of design thinking and entrepreneurship.

"Being able to be creative and adaptable, flexible is what kids are going to need in 2030," Vest said. "Because we don't know what that looks like, they have to be flexible."

Grace and Abigayle

Students create a brand and a product, then pitch the idea to a panel of local businessmen and teachers.

"You have an amazing opportunity to find some people and turn this into a reality", judge Marc Cheatham said about “The Hit Stick!”.

For students Grace Bretches and Abigayle Torrico, their clothing design had a personal touch.

"We have founded our entire company over the idea of self-love and staying true to your personality," the students explained.

Their “nostalgic” clothing line is for people of all sizes.

"We really started off wanting to make people happy," Grace said.

Mr. Vest’s vision was to transform the way his students saw themselves and the world around them.

Abigayle said it was a little intimidating at first.

"But now I'm pretty confident with that," she said. "I'm pretty confident in who I am."

"You take them out of their comfort zone; give them a chance to be themselves," Mr. Vest said. “Don't have them worry about tests and they shine!"

The class is building confidence and Building Better Minds.

Building Better Minds with Rob Cardwell airs Wednesdays on CBS 6.