Entrepreneurship & Innovation

Solving For X

The ultimate goal of the STEM X curriculum is to help Derryfield students develop their capacity to discover interesting problems, experiment with novel creative solutions, document their work and share their findings. Students are encouraged to adopt an innovator’s mindset when they problem solve, whether it’s designing software, building a 3D printed prototype or pitching their ideas like entrepreneurs. By challenging students to explore the unknown, we aim to ignite student creativity. Derryfield students also benefit from a growing community of innovators on the local and global scale. They collaborate with professional mentors as part of the Independent Senior Project program and present pitches on their ideas to industry professionals at the annual Innovation Breakfast.


When you think of an online clothing retailer speaking at a regional conference for the e-commerce platform Shopify, you might not expect that professional to be a freshman in high school. However, this scenario is the result of Derryfield freshman Steven DeCesare taking a passion for gaming and a bad birthday present, and turning it into a successful business venture.

An avid gamer, Steven received “a really cheesy gaming t-shirt” as a present and hated it. He took a look around for cooler alternatives and discovered that there weren’t many options that combined streetwear and gaming. Steven did some brainstorming, ran a business plan by his parents, and took the money he had earned from a summer marketing internship to launch Velocity, a gaming-centered clothing line targeted to under-21 males in urban markets.

Steven believes the success of his business is based on the process of identifying a problem – even if it’s a minor inconvenience in everyday life – finding a solution, and making it possible. In fact, this process precisely models the path of Derryfield’s STEM-X course sequence, which has courses in Design Thinking, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship; courses Steven is really looking forward to taking in the future. For now, he is honing his marketing skills in his Exploration Course, Marketing for a Cause.

Flash forward to one of Shopify’s regional conferences, held in Boston in January. Steven shared his experience building a business on the e-commerce platform with a group of mostly adults, co-presenting with an SEO professional who was at least a decade older than he. “I thought I’d be nervous, but it ended up going really well because I was talking about my own experience.” Steven encourages other kids to take the leap he took in launching Velocity. He adds, “It helps to have a passion for the idea you’re building a business around.”