By Mike Kruzman /

Local technical high school students are staying engaged and winning money from a recently completed project that challenged them to fill empty lots in Brighton.

Flex Tech High School in Brighton is a project and competency-based charter school where students and teachers develop projects that draw on the local community while maintaining high educational standards. A recent project/competition for an economics class had students assigned one of 4 vacant lots within the Brighton Downtown Development Authority and Chamber of Commerce. Students visited their assigned site and did market research to gain perspective on what might benefit the community there, and then developed a plan, with the top 4 participating in a virtual Business Pitch Competition. At stake was prize money up to $1,500 made possible through a contribution from Lake Trust Credit Union.

Taking first place was McKenna Vincent. She said she moved to Brighton 3 years ago, and what stuck out to her was a sense of community. She said during her presentation that during the summer months there was swing dancing at the Millpond, festivals, and concerts that brought a variety of people together under one theme: music. But she also noticed there weren’t many places downtown for music events to be held, and that they were only happening during the three summer months. Vincent wanted to create a business that would allow the community to come together and enjoy music all year-round. Her idea was for WinePenny Records- a two story experience that offered a record shop upstairs, and a concert stage downstairs.

Coming in 2nd place was Zachary Larsen for his Games and More business. Third place was awarded to Hayleigh Stoutenburg for a proposed community garden, and the fourth place prize was won by Aurora Cardoni for her eponymously named Cat Café.