For students at Miller Place High School, fourth-period is actually a working office.
The virtual enterprise business class is open to juniors and seniors there, and its idea is to allow students to “run” a virtual business, which they completely create.
It is a business ownership simulation class where students network with other students around the United States and world under the auspices of the Virtual Enterprises International organization. Throughout the school year, students create, manage and work collectively with their peers to help ensure their business concepts and ideas are successfully put into action. Students then take their business model and begin to network with other VE students from all over the country.
In Thomas Fank’s fourth-period class, 22 students have worked diligently on their business model for an online boutique they created called As Scene on the Screen — a store with movie, TV and pop-culture memorabilia.
But it’s not a real store, Fank said. It’s all virtual and a simulation that allows students to see what it’s like to run a business and deal with customer service. Just like a real business, As Scene on the Screen buys products from wholesalers, and then sells items for a profit, all with virtual funds.
“They’ve sold items and created their business throughout the whole year,” Fank said. “And now, we just got results back from a bunch of the national competitions — 13 awards.”
Since the class started in the district three years ago, it’s won 30 awards. And over the last couple of years, it has piqued the interest of many students. Along with fourth-period, he has 28 students in his second-period class and 26 in eighth.
And just like an office, the class shows how important teamwork is when running a business.
Anthony Gagliardi, head of marketing and design with As Scene on the Screen, said that working on their digital portfolio — which includes both professional and personal portfolios — students move through the different steps to do just as a typical corporate setting would do in the real world.
“Now we’ve gotten up to working on a website,” he noted. “Just explaining about ourselves, what we do for this company, and that really just shows how we function as a class.”
Throughout the 40-minute period they have available, each and every minute is spent in meetings, making sales, working on company documents and networking with other students across the country and around the world.
“The students will do trades and complete purchases from other schools,” Fank said. “This helps stimulate the virtual economy.”
As a capstone class, students are able to earn six college credits through SUNY Farmingdale. Underclassmen are encouraged to take lower-level business electives, like accounting, digital design, business law, sports marketing or computer literacy, prior to the course so they’re completely prepared.
“I think that’s what’s helped lead to kind of the success that we’ve been seeing so far,” Fank said. “So not only are they getting kind of real-life readiness — career readiness skills — they’re also getting six college credits.”
Jack Soldano, head of design at the virtual company, said this class is different than his other classes throughout the day.
“Every other period of the school day there’s a lot of memorization, formulas, historical figures, and this class is such a breath of fresh air, because it allows you to be creative and have some fun with a task,” he said. “It’s a great teamwork experience.”