The excitement in South Pasadena High School’s auditorium was palpable. On Thursday, October 13, 2022, after a two year hiatus, SPHS hosted over 400 students from high schools throughout California for the Los Angeles Region 2022 Virtual Enterprise Student Leadership Training Day. It represents the kickoff to the Virtual Enterprise competition year and the teams began the day by introducing themselves and their team businesses to the uproarious cheers of not only their teammates, but all the participants. It was obvious that all the teams were thrilled to be back in person and very proud of the hard work they’ve been putting in.
Students attending the conference were able to meet with business professionals who presented in various areas such as market research, networking, graphic design, ethics and law in business and much more as they experienced a taste of real-world business practices. It was a chance for the student teams to bond with other teams and network with local business professionals. There were very high level presenters and keynote speakers with three SPHS alumni among them including Ryan Chase who works in the entertainment industry, Lou Nicolaides who is a marketing and sales professional in specialty foods, and Michael Ruan who works for a start up health care organization in New York City.
SPHS Principal John Eldred was over the moon at the turnout and excitement of the day saying, “Virtual Enterprise provides a highly dynamic environment for really highly motivated students that have this will to succeed not only in high school but beyond that. It’s really encouraging to me to be able to see these students coming back, post pandemic, and dropping into it almost like it never happened. And I think that is really due to Cathy Mason (SPHS Virtual Enterprise Advisor and CTE Teacher) and her ability to shepherd these kids and to pull the best out of them.” He went on to discuss the students’ motivation at the local, state and national levels saying, “it’s impressive to me as a principal, and gratifying, to be able to see them performing at such a highly structured level.” It has been a point of honor to host the conference, which SPHS has done in the past and Eldred says it’s a goal to host it regularly in the future.
The theme of this year’s conference was “Lead Your School” which was chosen by the SPHS Virtual Enterprise Varsity Team. CEO of the SPHS Varsity Team, Avik Gautum tells us that SPHS has usually played a large role in planning and hosting the conference and says, “this year, since it was the first year that we knew we would be back in person, we started planning a couple months back – creating the designs. We’ve always played a part in it, but this year was a big year for us in the sense that we got to finally host again in person.” This is Gautum’s senior year and his third year with the Virtual Business Team. He goes on to explain, “Virtual Enterprise gives the opportunity to students in schools around the country to create a business and operate that business in a virtual economy that teaches students the values of business and the values of leadership. It’s a great program.”
Annette Woo is a junior and this is her first year on the Varsity team after being on the JV team last year. “I was definitely nervous coming from JV going into Varsity where people have a lot more experience but I think it’s really exciting that I get to work with people who have more experience than me and that’s an opportunity that I’m really glad to take on.” She went on to explain, “it really allows the class to bond and gives us real world experience of how the different departments come together in an actual business and I think that’s really key for us before we go ahead and move on.”
Elijah Macias remembers reading about the Virtual Business program at SPHS in the South Pasadenan when he was in eighth grade and tells us, “I really appreciate what you guys are doing at South Pasadenan because when I read that article it made me a really big fan of Virtual Enterprise and I became a really big fanboy of this program!” He chuckled and went on to say, “it’s kind of a surreal moment for me right now, to be a part of the leadership team. And I really appreciate you promoting our program.”
Danielle Fong says she feels that she and all the participating students will really benefit from meeting each other. “It’s really interesting to see what other students have come up with, their company ideas, their slogans and company names. It’s really fun to just see other schools and meet other people”
It will certainly be exciting to see where our team goes this year. Watch this space for a follow up with our teams to talk about their business model and the competitions. Kudos to Cathy Mason and the Virtual Enterprise students for putting together such a successful event that benefitted hundreds of California students and best of luck this year!