A night of mystery

Published 6:42 pm Friday, January 28, 2022

CEO program event raising money, opening networking


A night of mystery and murder most foul await those who wish take part in the Mower County CEO Program’s Murder Mystery Dinner in February.

“Midnight at the Masquerade” is the culmination of the group’s annual class business project, which will take guests through an interactive mystery with murder at its heart.

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“It’s a huge networking opportunity for people attending and business owners,” said Kaitlin Meiergerd, a member of this year’s CEO program’s class. “It’s a great way to bring the community together. We really wanted something unique and different while we learn something new.”

Photo provided

The night will begin with the doors opening at the Holiday Inn Austin Conference Center at 4 p.m. and the event kicking off at 5 p.m. The event will include a three-course meal along with, of course, the mystery at hand, that will task guests to unravel the mystery of the Billionaires’ Club Annual Masquerade Ball.

Single admission is $60 with a package rate of $450.

The night is the culmination of a lot of behind the scenes work by the students taking part in the Mower County CEO Program, which is designed to introduce interested students to the professional world through the process of creating their own business.

This single night and the planning behind it is a major part of the program and organized entirely by the students. For “Midnight at the Masquerade,” planning began with planning.

“First, we started just brainstorming,” said Denni Heimer. “We decided … and sent out a survey to the Facebook community asking people what they want to do.”

The survey came back with plenty of support for the murder-mystery dinner.

“People wanted it because it was different,” Heimer said.

Eventually, the group went with a company out of the Twin Cities to put on the show.

“We met on Zoom with the company and decided they were the perfect fit for us,” said Meghan Rosheim. “We could just tell they were professional. We watched the video they sent us and we could tell they were legit.”

One of the lures of the show is just how interactive it will be. Not simply set in one place, the players will move about the tables and involve guests in the mystery itself.

“It’s interaction,” Meiergerd said. “They pick people with the audience. They walk around throughout the tables. They aren’t staying on the stage the whole time.”

There will also be a silent auction for guests to take part in.

While this project is undoubtedly a major part of the CEO program, which is a fundraiser, it’s also just a piece of a larger pie that stretches throughout the school year.

Each junior and senior taking part are tasked to create their own business model and work with mentors to develop it throughout the year.

The mentors themselves play an especially important part in the process. They are the student’s sounding boards and channel advice to those they work with.

“Mentors are really honest with us,” said Ryan Demetrio. “If they realize something is not going to work they let us know. If it’s going to work they let us know. They make us better overall.”

Aunica Groh agrees. Throughout the process her mentor has been more than a guide.

“My mentor has been huge,” Groh said. “Jillian Tweed works at the hospital in Albert Lea. She let me know she would always be there.”

CEO also has the advantage of helping students with the day to day styling of business and how to be professional.

“You have to learn how to talk professionally, act professionally and dress professionally,” Heimer said. “This event is so much bigger than anything a school could support alone. We’re working on the next level, it teaches you a lot of who you are as a person.”

But it also brings students together as a group, another important aspect of the professional world, especially considering just how massive this project is on its own.

“We need to work together and change this and really work on ticket sales,” Meiergerd said. “Once we saw the challenge, we met together as a class and saw what we had to do with this financial challenge.”

Overall, it’s been an experience worth the time and work.

“If you have interest at all, do it,” Heimer said. “It’s been so beneficial in so many ways.”

For more information and to buy tickets to the Feb. 20th event, visit: mowercountyceo.betterworld.org/events/midnight-at-masquerade-murder-my#details.

Members of this year’s CEO Program include: Denni Heimer, from left, Meghan Rosheim, Kaitlin Meiergerd, Aunica Groh, Ryan Demetrio. Eric Johnson/eric.johnson@austindailyherald.com

For a look into what the CEO Program does, here are just some examples of the student’s businesses.

Kaitlin Meiergerd KaitlinBellePhotography

Kaitlin, who is also a member of FFA, focuses her photography around combining seniors and their livestock in photos. Her mission is capturing moments and making them memories.

Meghan Rosheim

Meghans Syrups Co.

Meghan makes homemade coffee syrup as well as Italian soda syrup. Her product can be found at the Coffee House on Main.

Ryan Demetrio

Rad Photography

Ryan’s business has him taking photos of a little bit of everything in the hopes of becoming a freelance photographer.

Aunica Groh


Aunica’s business centers around headbands. Ardour means zeal or passion and the whole idea is for people to do things you are passionate about while practicing self love.

Denni Heimer

HD|DH and Mix N’ Mat

Denni is involved in a pair of businesses. Her own is Mix ’N Mat, which sells hand made, abstract rugs which taps into her art. The other HD|DH features both Denni and Hewan Dagmawi in the creation of hair and skin care products.

For more on the CEO program in general, visit: www.mowercountyceo.com/