Making a “Caisse” for Entrepreneurship

There’s nothing like being entrusted with other people’s money to know real-world responsibility first hand. At Chateauguay Valley Regional High School, a dozen Cycle Two students are gaining exactly that experience. In partnership with Desjardins’ Caisse du Haut-St-Laurent, they are operating an in-school student “caisse.”

Chateauguay Valley Regional (CVR) is a rural high school, and the closest bank machine is a few kilometres away. Not exactly around the corner if you happen to forget your lunch money. Having a student-run caisse on site where both students and staff can deposit and withdraw funds is practical for all concerned.1 Student_Caisse Logo.001-article

But it is more than a simple convenience. “The students have a board of directors, they are responsible for managing and operating the CVR Student Caisse and are open for business three lunch hours a week. It’s amazing! They have had the opportunity to learn a great deal about themselves and what it’s like to work in a small cooperative,” says Vanessa Finnie, a GOAL coordinator with the New Frontiers School Board. Moreover, their student customers are also learning about saving money and managing their personal finances.

Full day of training

Visiting the school on opening day

Visiting the school on opening day

Cycle Two teachers Mary Sauvé and Sasha Geukjian have been guiding the students throughout the start-up process, and they attend the monthly board meetings. The young entrepreneurs have also received direct support from the Caisse du Haut-St-Laurent, which has an ongoing partnership with the school and has often used its auditorium for special events.

Last fall, the Caisse welcomed the students to its Ormstown premises for a full day of orientation and training, and it equipped the school with a time lock safe, laptop computer, and some furniture. Caisse representatives also visit the school regularly to share their expertise and help the students get used to balancing a cash and providing proper customer service. 


“We realized students could get Entrepreneurship credits for their work.”

Originally the teachers thought the cooperative would run as an extra-curricular activity, and they sent a call-out at the beginning of the school year inviting students in Secondary III, IV, and V to participate. Of the 12 students who signed on, five were elected to the board of directors.

“Shortly into the school year, we realized that the students could get Entrepreneurship course credits for the work they are doing,” says Vanessa. (The Entrepreneurship curriculum is designed to develop two competencies: students determine their suitability for an entrepreneurial career, and they implement an entrepreneurial project.) “Two credits are allocated for approximately 50 hours of learning, and there is no doubt students will reach that,” adds Vanessa. So far, most of the students have opted to do the self-evaluation and reflection on their work which is graded as part of the Entrepreneurship course.

“Doing the ‘caisse’ has made me realize that I’m a doer.”

They certainly have a lot to mull over. Do they have entrepreneurial qualities and if so, which ones? How are they most useful to their team? What are they good at? What do they not like doing? How do they deal with stress? This kind of self-reflection is also an integral part of GOAL.

The Team

The Team

Student Lydia Sutherland sums up what she has learned so far: “Being a part of the caisse has taught me that I love collaborating with people. We have such a strong and dedicated team, which makes everything easier. After I graduate, I would like to open up my own business. Perhaps a flower shop. Doing the caisse has made me realize that I’m a doer.”

Unique start-up experience

“The 2015-2016 participants get the unique experience of starting something from the ground up,” says Vanessa. In addition to devising work schedules, working the machines, and learning to handle money securely as a team, they set up and decorated the physical space; organized a logo design contest; ran incentive contests to entice students, faculty, and staff to open accounts and do transactions; and ran lunch-time events to create awareness and attract more clients.

The Student Caisse was entered into the 2015 competition.

The Student Caisse was entered into the 2015 competition.

The students involved also get the unique opportunity of attending a series of workshops (such as the basics of entrepreneurship, customer service, and public speaking) given by partner organizations in the community such as Carrefour jeunesse-emploi.

“What has been fascinating is the level of ownership and commitment students have shown to making this a success,” says teacher Mary Sauvé. “So much so that our main job as advisors has been to rein in the enthusiasm, help set feasible goals, and then break these down into manageable steps.

Opening Address

Opening Address

Check out their website at !!

By Laurene Bennett, Communications Arpeggia,
with Vanessa Finnie, NFSB, and Michilynn Dubeau, LEARN


Financial Education for Secondary V

Did you know that there will be an approved Secondary V course in Social Sciences, “Financial Education,” available beginning in 2016-2017? Students will learn about managing their personal finances, making informed choices, recognizing the legal implications of their choices, and exercising responsible behaviour, and critical judgment.

Financial Education is connected to all five Broad Areas of Learning, including Career Planning and Entrepreneurship. The course will have one competency in which students will focus on financial issues that affect them, thereby enhancing their knowledge of themselves and of their financial risk tolerance. Students will examine financial issues related to consuming goods and services, entering the workforce, and pursuing an education, all with the goal of preparing themselves to manage their personal finances and to make informed choices.

Topics covered will include consumer credit, personal savings, reading information on a payroll slip, statutory holidays, employment insurance, filing an income tax return, legal issues such as tax evasion, student loans and costs related to education, and numerous other issues relevant to students at this juncture in their education and work life.

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