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Virtual Enterprise kicks off for second year, adding a second business

Gathered+around+a+computer%2C+the+Global+Goodies+finance+team+prepares+to+register+their+business+through+Virtual+Enterprise.
Gathered around a computer, the Global Goodies finance team prepares to register their business through Virtual Enterprise.

Gathered around a computer, the Global Goodies finance team prepares to register their business through Virtual Enterprise.

Debra Klevens

Debra Klevens

Gathered around a computer, the Global Goodies finance team prepares to register their business through Virtual Enterprise.

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Although the 2016-17 academic year marked the debut of Virtual Enterprise International at West, the program quickly drew national attention with its first company, Spire. Growing student interest in the class brought about a new challenge: kicking off the 2017-18 year with not one, but two, student-led companies.

“So far, I think it’s turned out really, really successfully. I love that as a teacher, I’m able to collaborate with two other people that I really respect as teachers, and that we’re able to use our strengths to help 43 students successfully launch two businesses this year,” journalism and Virtual Enterprise teacher Debra Klevens said.

Last year, the program was spearheaded by Business teacher Emanuel Young. This year Klevens and art teacher Katy Mangrich have joined the team.

“V.E. is going great. I love how passionate all the students are in this class, and how hardworking everyone is. It’s a breath of fresh air,” Mangrich said. “I’m learning a lot as we go, so my goal for the end of the year is to be more comfortable in this position while still holding high expectations for the class.”

Junior Zaide Johnson fixes junior Chris Frederick's shirt collar in preparation for a company headshot.

Last year, 27 students participated in the V.E. program. While the majority of this year’s 43 enrolled students are newcomers, there are a handful of returning students, including senior Aaron McKnight.

“It’s definitely same as last year in terms of coming up with a name and logo and everything. It’s a long process, but it’s a fun process, and it definitely defines your company. As far as size, it’s a lot bigger,” McKnight said. “Program-wise, it’s about the same; how it’s being run, how the business models are set up, all that.”

While West had previously only competed in Virtual Enterprise with one company, Spire, two separate companies are currently being run out of the program: Global Goodies VE, an international food subscription box service, and Vivid+, a digital marketing, advertising, and design firm.

“I’m currently in the marketing division of [Vivid+]. We already have our first customer; we’re supposed to run the social media for the junior class, that’s Dr. Sink, the junior class principal. We’ll be running that Twitter, alongside working with media management for the very challenging [Parkway] Spark!” junior Sebastian DeVillar said. “We have our work cut out for us, but we have a great team. Everyone’s putting in their best work, and we have great leadership. We just really want to succeed, do well, and gain more customers.”

Leadership was hired for both companies on Sept. 19, featuring the talents of both new and returning V.E. students.

“I decided to run for CEO (Chief Executive Officer) because I felt that there was a definite need for leadership,” Vivid+ CEO and senior Alex Volz said. “I had the free time, and I feel as if I have the social skills necessary to be able to successfully equip myself with the ability to communicate and socialize and get my point of view across to all walks of life.”

While Volz just entered the program, senior and COO (Chief Operating Officer) of Vivid+ Mitch Wills is returning for his second year.

To mark his first day on the job, senior Mitch Wills presents his COO introductory speech to a room of Virtual Enterprise students.

“I wanted to push myself,” Wills said. “Last year, I was an accountant for VE, and I wanted to take more of a leadership role this year to see if I could develop myself as a leader because I think I have the qualities needed. I wanted to see what I could do to help the company.”

Global Goodies’ VE leadership consists of seniors Jackson Piles, CEO, and Jack Gieseking, COO.

“There will always be a friendly competition with classmates, but we will work very closely in business. [We’re] literally sharing a workspace with Vivid+,” Piles said. “Most people, I think, would admit that there is a friendly competition between the two companies. And competition is good for business because it drives both of our companies to do the best we can possibly achieve.”

With the interview process complete, students in all departments have settled into their new jobs.

“V.E. is really cool because we’re leading our own activities. It’s very self-motivated, which is something that I don’t get in a lot of high school classes,” senior Cheryl Ma said. “I am worried, though, because there’s a lot of leaders in this class, and it’s hard to throw a bunch of alpha dogs in one room and expect them to work together. But I think that hopefully, over time, once we get to know each other, it’ll be fine.”

Among all participating students, one thing is certain: excitement for the coming year is higher than before.

“Our overall goal is to find a good ratio in order to maximize efficiency and our actual success rate,” Volz said. “A healthy balance of that and genuine enjoyment of the class and the activities we do will make for a great year.”

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The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High
Virtual Enterprise kicks off for second year, adding a second business