It was a little uncomfortable at first, but Brad Hakim is settling into sales calls.

It was a little uncomfortable at first, but Brad Hakim is settling into sales calls.

The Jerome High School senior has to step out of his comfort zone to sell shirts, but it's not for an internship and after school job. It's for high school credits.

Hakim is one of 30 students in the inaugural class of the Dublin Business Academy at Jerome High School.

Juniors and seniors from Dublin's three high schools can travel to a morning or afternoon session of the three-period class that gives hands-on experience in the business world.

Hakim is interested in going into business and last year helped teacher Brad Richardson out with the shirt-screening machine used for the business academy.

"Instead of study center last year, I helped out Mr. Richardson," he said. "When I found out about the class I wanted a chance to be involved."

Students spend nine weeks in four different fields of the business: management, accounting, marketing and producing the shirts.

Hakim already had experience with the production side of the business and thought the rest would be simple.

"I thought it would be pretty easy, but we have to come up with prices for the shirts and other things," he said.

Coffman High School senior Sarah Davis said one of the challenges of the class has been communication between the four different parts of the business.

"Sometimes we catch ourselves doing things twice," she said.

Davis joined the program because of an interest in design, and said she's learning a lot with the hands on experience.

"It's hands on instead of sitting in class," she said. "It's more fun and easier to make yourself do it."

"You learn a lot more from a hands-on experience," Hakim agreed. "You learn a lot from making mistakes."

Richardson said the personal experience is the entire point of the class. Students make sales calls, design shirts, make invoices, balance the books, create a work schedule, make commercials and more.

"It's great experiential learning for students," Richardson said.

"They're not just learning from books. Not too many high school students around can get real world experience ... . They're dealing with real clients and having to every day overcome obstacles. If something happens they have to learn to adjust on the fly."

Students are wholly in charge of the business, Richardson said, and the morning and afternoon classes compete to sell more. By October, students had sold nearly twice as many shirts as were sold the year before, he said.

The Dublin City School District was divided into two sales areas, but the rest is open. Students have made sales to St. Francis DeSales High School, Tolles Career and Technical Center, sports groups and others.

"Outside of Dublin City Schools you can use any personal connection," he said, adding that students are trying to leverage relationships with have with people who work for the Columbus Zoo and Blue Jackets to make sales.

Students still get classroom time. Richardson said one period is used for teaching business curriculum and the remaining periods are used for running the business. Next year students could have a chance to earn college credit with the program.

"Next year we're looking to have dual enrollment with (Ohio State University) or Columbus State," he said.

"With the curriculum we'll be able to offer college credit for business management or entrepreneurship."

The program was made available through a partnership with Tolles. Richardson said the program was cut last year after the fall levy and bond issue was rejected by voters. Tolles decided to continue the program.

"I'm a Tolles teacher," he said.

The program is also supported by OSU through a partnership with the Fisher Business College.

"Our students work with a group of students from Fisher," Richardson said. "They have weekly Skype sessions and so research ... ."

Even though the program is supported with partnerships, sales go back into the school.

"The biggest sales thing they have going for them is (customers) aren't just ordering shirts, they're contributing to educational opportunities for our students," Richardson said.

"One hundred percent of the profits are invested back into the schools."

For more information about the Dublin Business Academy, send email to