A student-operated business at Santa Barbara High School has a chance to be featured in a TV commercial during the Super Bowl, but only if it gets enough online votes by Oct. 13.

The Dons Net Café, which offers hands-on entrepreneurial experience through the Regional Occupational Program, has made it to the second round of a contest in which the grand prize is a commercial during the National Football League’s championship game.

The contest, called “Small Business/Big Game,” is sponsored by Intuit, the parent company of QuickBooks. The business that gets the most online votes wins, so the Dons are urging all of Santa Barbara to vote for them.

“The Dons Net Café seems to be the only student-run enterprise in the contest, which has attracted hundreds if not thousands of small businesses from all over the country. Hopefuls include a dog-walking service, a chicken restaurant, a violin maker, and even a tattoo shop,” said Lee Knodel, the teacher who supervises the Net Café students.

“I found the contest while I was searching for ways to expand our business,” said Jesus Terrazas, the senior who is CEO of the Dons Net Café. “What better way is there to promote our custom T-shirt business, Design-N-Cut, than to be on the Super Bowl with the whole country watching?

“We’ll show that students are competitive at a professional level. If we can do it, others can do it,” Jesus added.

“I always tell the kids to show up and go for it. That we’ve come this far in the contest is a prime example of what ‘showing up’ is all about,” added Knodel, who teaches computer applications, “virtual enterprise,” accounting, and finance through the Regional Occupational Program (ROP) that is funded and administered countywide by the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

To vote for the Dons Net Café, go to the students’ website, donsnetcafe.com and hit “vote for us,” or go to smallbusinessbiggame.com and use “Dons” in the search field. Anyone can vote once a day from the same device.

The Dons Net Café is a student-run business that represents a 20-year commitment to inspire students to create positive, social and environmental change through ethical commerce and service learning, Knodel said. Her students participate in Junior Achievement, Virtual Enterprise, Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA), Roots and Shoots, and other “service learning” projects.

Santa Barbara County ROP/CTE courses provide high-quality career technical education, career education, career development, and workforce preparation to about 3,800 high school students each year in the Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Lompoc, Santa Maria, and Santa Ynez Valley communities.

For more information, including lists of classes offered in each ROP partner school district, photos, videos and student testimonials, go to rop.sbceo.org.


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