Business teacher Mr. Stircula and marketing students take on pitch competition

Stircula teaching his 4a-4b marketing class.

Stircula teaching his 4a-4b marketing class.

Mia Ray, Contributing Writer

Solon High School’s (SHS) newest addition to the business faculty, Robert Stircula, educates students on multiple subjects: marketing, entrepreneurship, accounting, personal finance, business and college keyboarding. Stircula stated he is enjoying his second year at SHS.

“[In] the classes last year I was trying to figure out my way here, and this year has been more about showing my personality,” Stircula said. “Being new last year, I think that some of the students were afraid to talk and the response from kids this year has been more interactive and classes have been going a lot smoother than last year which is better for project based learning.”

When asked which class he enjoys teaching the most, he stated his favorite class to teach is entrepreneurship.

“The kids have more freedom to explore what they want to do,” Stircula said. “It gives them a chance to think outside of the box and not fall in the normal realm of ‘I have to go to college’ or ‘I have to get this job’, so it gives a chance for students to be their own boss.”

Stircula also believes that entrepreneurship is beneficial to not only students’ futures, but it was helpful personally for him as well.

“I think that’s just a class that makes you more creative and tries to have you hustle and make it how you want to make it rather than going off of society’s norms,” Stircula said.

Previously, Stircula taught at Benedict High School in Cleveland, where he had worked from 2002 to 2021.

“I started off teaching there as a computer applications teacher,” Stircula said. ”Once the business teacher retired, I transferred over to business where I taught business law, economics, entrepreneurship, intro to business, marketing, management and personal finance.”

Stircula was also the Smith Family Grant Winner in both 2016 and 2018. This award is given to the teacher with the most impact on the school community of Benedictine. He was awarded this for the business classes that he ran.

After a while, Stircula wanted to do something else in his free time other than continuously teaching business classes. This love for basketball contributed to his role as coach for the boys basketball team at SHS.

“They said if I want to coach basketball in high school I have to get into the school,” Stircula said. “So I got all my education certifications and then got my masters in NBA business administration, which covers all the different courses I teach, from North Central University.”

Ester Baek, a senior student of Stircula’s entrepreneurship class, stated she loves how ‘at ease’ the class feels to her.

“I think that, especially in entrepreneurship, it’s just a really laid back and relaxed class but we still learn valuable information,” Baek said.

Another senior student, Rishabh Mehta, agrees with Baek’s perspective on Stircula’s class.

“I really like [the class],” said Mehta. “It is one of my favorite classes because something that is different with every other class [than] with business class is that you get to learn concepts that you may want to use in a career. It is something that has practical knowledge to it and that really appeals to me.”

Baek also believes that Stircula’s class is beneficial towards her future career.

“Since I want to go down the business route, and further leaning towards entrepreneurship, I like taking it in high school because I get a little push start to college because I am majoring in entrepreneurship,” Baek said. “I just think it’s a lot of valuable information for people who are not even going to school for business because it’s just like everyday life skills and just communication skills you need in general.”

Sticula’s entrepreneurship class visited John Carroll University for a pitch competition organized for high school students all around Ohio.

“Arriving at John Caroll, we had a guest speaker who was a professor at the University of Minnesota,” Mehta said. “He gave a lot about what entrepreneurs do and you’re supposed to create solutions to solve problems [by] thinking outside of the box. He also went through a step by step process, gave [explanations to] some of his products and we had a pitch competition.”

SHS students had already come well prepared for this competition compared to other schools. Junior Aitan Dubson and his group understood what needed to be done and organized.

“Mr. Stircula told us to be prepared to beat everyone so it was just really Solon kids that were working hard, and in return, we destroyed everyone” Dubson stated.

To practice their product pitches, Stircula assigned each group in his Marketing class both one large and one small Pringle can. They were instructed to create an invention in which they utilized those cans. Stircula made sure his students were prepared for the competition, making sure they did not feel overwhelmed or incompetent for presenting their pitches and being able to communicate in front of others.

The winning idea came from Mehta.

“My idea was safety pal,” Mehta said. “It is supposed to solve the problem of, especially teenage girls not feeling safe on college campuses at night. It includes pepper spray, an emergency button linked up with your emergency contact, and it creates a really convenient tool that people can either fit into their purses or clutches or even backpacks. It is supposed to help them feel more safe.”

The safety pal was voted on by most of the students in the competition, which scored Mehta first place of the entire competition, leaving SHS students as winners. Mr. Stircula created winners because of how focused and inclusive he creates his classroom atmosphere. He provides a way for students to get creative and express their true imagination and knowledge.