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The Innovators: Reality TV at Calvin?
February 8, 2005

It's not quite The Apprentice. But it's close.

On Saturday, February 12 the student life division at Calvin College will present an Apprentice-like contest called The Innovators.

And like TV's The Apprentice this contest will match teams of contestants against each other in a real-life project with a final "boardroom" judging and a cash prize to the team with the most innovative project.

Teams will get their task at 10 am that morning from "The Shirley," Calvin vice president for student life Shirley Hoogstra.

They then will have nine hours to complete their assignment. At 7 pm that evening all the participants (there will be five teams with 10 people per team) will gather in the Fine Arts Center auditorium - "the boardroom."

There, in front of "The Shirley" and a studio audience (fellow students, faculty and staff) the judging will take place.

Each member of the winning team will take home a crisp $100 bill and there will be other prizes (gift certificates and two iPod Shuffles) for the audience.

At the conclusion of the show all five teams and the audience will be invited to Calvin's Commons Dining Hall for a pizza party.

Hoogstra says the event is a way to have fun, but also accomplish an important task for the college.

"I can't say too much about the task because we need to keep it secret until that day." she says, "but I can say it is something our (student life) division has been considering. In the course of our brainstorming we realized we needed more student input on the issue. And so we came up with this contest as a way to have a fun student activity and also get some important work done."

Each team will be provided with paper, easels, markers, a digital camera, computer access (including internet), an hour of scheduled conference calls and meals. At the end of the contest each team will be allowed up to 15 minutes in the boardroom for presentation and evaluation.

Hoogstra credits two of her colleagues - Joy Bouwman and Betsy Cooper - for coming up with the idea and running with it.

"They've been great," she says. "We're all having a lot of fun planning this and we think it will be a great event."

Hoogstra is quick to point out, however, that her "The Shirley" bio on the Innovators website is fictional.