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Life lessons in Virtual Enterprises

Granville Central, South Granville students hone business acumen skills at workshop

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RALEIGH — South Granville and Granville Central Virtual Enterprise students were given an opportunity last Friday to present their business plans to a panel of judges at a workshop at Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh.

South Granville previously presented the best business plan for the last two years and the goal for the students is to win the competition for a third straight year. Last year, the students won for their business, Etcetera, a gag gift company. The year before, it was for Adrenaline Rush, a magazine publishing business.

The South Granville business plan this year focused on their latest creation, Cookie Kings.

“The students were willing to test the boundaries of what a cookie is by bringing unique combinations and flavors to the marketplace like marshmallow-stuffed peanut butter cookies and apple pie cookies,” said Mark Jones, VE teacher at South Granville.

The Virtual Enterprise programs currently taught in high schools is an opportunity for students to get hands-on experience in building a successful company from the ground up. Students will be able to run the day-to-day operations of their own businesses or company. They will begin to see how important each job and the person filling that position can be to the success of their company. Since its 1996 inception, VE has taught over 150,000 students for the future, many from economically disadvantaged communities about business skills and ownership.

Selina Banks, CEO of Cookie Kings, led last Friday’s presentation, with Jake Wilson, CFO, providing financial information about the company. Lexia Stepto and Zoe Fields presented information about the marketing aspect of the company, while Andrew Shamer, the CMO, wrapped up the presentation with slides featuring the organizational chart, financial information, projections and the marketing scheme.

Banks said she was glad she took the VE class because it will prepare her for long-range goals of being a physical therapist, but she added she also can see a potential career in accounting.

Jake Wilson said a friend encouraged him to take the VE class. Wilson said what he has learned in Virtual Enterprises has been a lot more valuable than calculus or any other class. He added he is undecided about his future plans, but feels he will be well-prepared for whatever path he takes.

Stepto said she had taken a marketing class at South Granville and enjoyed the class and the teacher told her she needed to sign up for VE. She said she already had her classes set, but things changed.

“I’m not complaining, because I really like VE,” Septo said. “I have made some new friends through VE and I like this class better than any other of the mandatory classes at school.”

Stepto wanted to be a nurse but now has thoughts of going into business or something along those lines after taking the VE class.

Fields said she was recommended to take the class. Fields sees her future in business, perhaps entrepreneurship.

“It is a great opportunity to see this at a young age and to be able to grow on it,” Fields said.

Shamer said he has always like learning about business and he sees that turning into a career for him. He plans on going to college with his focus on business, but also a minor in construction or landscaping. Shamer wants to build his own company from the ground up.

Granville Central on the other hand does not have VE teacher, but the students in the program did not let that stop them from participating in the competition.

Co-CEOs Seth Wade and Shannon Lapierre lead a company called Iced Out, which features jewelry and accessories for dogs and their owners. They led their presentation, Dexter Houstead, marketing and sales, and Katlyn Johnson, CMO, walked through the different options for product, and Noah Judkins reviewed the operational side of the business for the judges.

“By being in the VE class, I am getting a head start toward majoring in business,” Wade said.

Wade added his long-term goals are to own and operate a successful business.

Houstead said the real world is going to be all business and he wanted to get a head start as well.

“I don’t want to go into the business world blind, I want to be able to know what I can and cannot do,” Houstead said.

Johnson, a senior, wanted to get a feel for the financial end of the business.

“VE has taught me a lot to use for the future with interviews and being professional,” Johnson said. “I am definitely going to take a lot from the class.”

Lapierre said she has thought about business as a possible career and VE would give her a taste of that to see if she really liked it.

“I certainly would get a lot of good point skills in business, financial marketing and entrepreneurship,” Lapierre said. “These are skills that I normally would not get from a typical class.”

“VE really teaches you skills that you really need to have once you get into the workforce, no matter what job you have,” Judkins added.

South Granville and Granville Central will have another opportunity for business plan presentations in March.

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