Students at Ridgefield High School participated in the first annual “Business and Culinary Symposium” Thursday, April 19. As part of the symposium, 80 RHS business and culinary students collaborated to develop solutions to real-world challenges faced by local business owners.  

Senior Mackenzie Fitzpatrick said she learned the importance of preparing for presentations.

“It’s important to listen to people you are trying to connect with, that sometimes your life might not go on the path you expect but to chase your fears, and that if you work hard you can be successful,” she said.

Fitzpatrick and others presented their research and recommendations to Ridgefield Running Company, Hoodoo Brown BBQ, and The Ridgefield Playhouse.  

“I learned how to present in a more entertaining, yet professional way,” said senior Matt Lombardo. “I learned that the connections you make and your personality has a lot more to do with your success than a degree.”

The symposium included student presentations, “Tiger Talks” given by Ridgefield alumni, and ended with a speed networking session.

Business participants in the symposium included: Megan Searfoss, owner of Ridgefield Running Company; Chris Sexton, owner of Hoodoo Brown BBQ; Jill Mango, marketing director at Ridgefield Playhouse.

Guest speakers included: Lucy Gilson, RHS alum and professor of management at the University of Connecticut; Chandler Mount, vice president at YouGov; and Tim Washer, comedy writer and corporate speaker.

Speed networking participants included: Jennifer Zinzi, executive director at Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce; and Jennifer Slavinsky, corporate recruiter Waterworks

The Ridgefield Education Foundation (REF) provided a grant to help fund the event.

The RHS Business and Culinary Symposium integrates classroom curriculum with real world application, and brings together talented RHS students and teachers with local Ridgefield business owners to develop solutions to authentic, complex challenges.  

Contact Jesse Peterkin at jpeterkin@ridgefield.org to find out how your business can get involved in our next symposium.