NIKE Students Develop Business Skills Through Virtual Enterprise

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The Long Beach Public Schools’ NIKE Work-Based Learning Center introduced a new Virtual Enterprise program at the start of the 2016-17 school year. Those involved hit the ground running with their innovations and ideas, and achieved an Honorable Mention at the Long Island Virtual Enterprises Business Plan Competition and Trade Fair, held at SUNY Farmingdale on Feb. 17.

Virtual Enterprises International is a worldwide simulation of entrepreneurship and business for high school and college students that equips them with firsthand knowledge and experience that is applicable to the challenging corporate world. At this point, NIKE is the only alternative school involved at the local level, with a group that meets every school day for two periods. Thanks to the district’s relationship with SUNY Farmingdale and the Perkins Consortium, Long Beach’s participants are able to earn up to 15 college credits for a modest fee upon completion of the program.

The NIKE students are navigating the process of business development from start to finish; they brainstormed ideas for merchandise and companies, and eventually decided to focus on marketing premium, filtered, bottled water infused with fruits, vitamins and herbs. Putting a unique twist on the chemical name for water, the group named the product 02H, and created a logo, business plan, business cards and other forms of branding under the guidance of teachers Howard Fuchs and Joe Jerimias and teacher’s assistant Sadie Garone.

Seniors Leianna Alcock and Amber Santos hold the leadership roles of CEO and Vice President, respectively. They oversee and advise their team to ensure that all steps are taken and deadlines are met. “We came up with ideas to make our water different, and had to think about the competition of other waters being sold,” said Leianna. “We researched the background of water, the people who would be buying it and where it would be sold.”

Virtual Enterprise is student-driven and involves the same level of collaboration and teamwork that is necessary for an actual business to succeed. “We show the students concepts, but they figure things out and are accountable to each other,” said Mr. Fuchs. “They are realizing that this is fun and are becoming entrepreneurs who will have valuable skills right out of high school.”

Those involved are learning real-life finance and economics through the manufacturing and sales simulations, while at the same time enhancing their writing skills and creativity through the branding components. Attendance at the competitions also presents learning opportunities, as the students observe products from other schools and take note of strategies that yield the most positive outcomes. Next on the students’ agenda is a trade show in New York City in April, and they continue to fine-tune their work as they prepare for the upcoming event.