May 25, 2021
The accomplishments of students in Geneva High School’s Virtual Enterprises class are a reflection of the advice that Ms. Dunlap shares at the start of every school year: You will get out of this course what you put into it.
After a yearlong journey that required the navigation of hybrid learning and virtual competitions, the adaptable class rose to every challenge and their hard work paid off, Ms. Dunlap says. The Area 304 accounting team became the first group at GHS – and Illinois – to advance to the VE National competition in two categories. In one of those categories, they went on to place third in the nation for their QuickBooks presentation. This year’s accounting team is made up of CFO Chris Nosewicz, VP Michael Kemnitz, Accounting Specialist Anthony Chiovari, and Accounting Specialist Justin Kwon.
Virtual Enterprises is a class that creates a virtual corporation or firm, develops a board, and hires employees. The GHS corporation, which goes by the student-chosen name Area 304, mirrors a typical corporation with roles including HR, accounting, marketing, leadership, and more. There are currently 20 students in the class, which becomes mostly self-directed once the students take up their posts, create a business plan, and begin “running” the business, Dunlap said. “As the facilitator, I tell students to think of me as a consultant once we get the business started.”
While the national competition typically takes place in New York, it was held virtually this year due to the pandemic. However, students didn’t let that discourage them from working any less, she said. “At the beginning of the year, in our hybrid model, I wondered how I would keep the kids engaged. But golly, these kids wanted the experience.”
That experience not only helped them build a business toolkit including such skills as bookkeeping, financial statements, and financial projections, but they also acquired skills that apply in other areas of life, such as time management, said Anthony, a senior. “I learned that you have to make your own time. When preparing our accounting records and our presentations, was important that we met outside school. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend that time.”
The most challenging parts of the competition also yielded some of the best memories, according to Chris, a senior. He and the group cited examples of scrambling to find a location to film their presentation – in their suits and with limited time; working late nights and struggling with reconciliation of their books only to find the resolution just under the wire.
The VE class has not only been meaningful during their high school journey, students said, but it has helped to shape their future academic pursuits as well.
“The only reason I took accounting was because I wanted to go into business — but I didn’t really have an interest,” said Michael, a junior. “Now when I go to college, I think I am going to pursue it. I would not have decided that without this class, and without being on this team.”
After advancing to the final round in the QuickBooks competition, which included a live Zoom call with several judges, the students gathered into a classroom with Ms. Dunlap to watch the live stream of winners. They all said they were astonished when they received third place in the very competitive contest.
“It was a crazy feeling,” Anthony recalled. “It was the same schools winning over and over again. Third place was so out of this world. A total shock.”
When asked whether Ms. Dunlap’s words of advice from the beginning of the year rang true for the team, all immediately agreed. “She said that on the first day, and it’s absolutely true,” Chris said. “We put in a good effort, and when we got to the next round we didn’t settle. We kept working.”