Business as usual


In 2020, local, as well as mainstream businesses, have taken a large hit due to COVID-19. Production stopped, buying and selling slowed, and jobs have decreased. 

However, the 2021 senior class of GlenOak’s High School of Business program is in full swing and ready to create their companies and products. 

The seniors were split into three groups. From there, the minds of these students created companies and an idea for a product. They will create these products in real life that will help, entertain, or amuse people. 

In each group, students who wished to be the CEO or the Vice President of their companies gave a speech about why they are qualified and why they desire to have a leadership role. The remaining students gave their feedback and business teachers Michael Nieporte and Amanda DeFays selected who they saw as the best fit. 

“Ultimately we were looking for leaders that will be able to keep them accountable and make sure they are getting stuff done, but also motivate their teams and keep them excited about the businesses,” Nieporte said. 

After the leadership positions were selected, the rest of the students in each group were placed into their roles. 

“From there, the rest of the students chose their top two positions and did a round-robin style interview at each company. The executive team then ranked the students they were interested in hiring for each position,” DeFays said. 

After everyone was selected, the companies got to work to create and design prototypes and make decisions. 

One company, Icebreaker, has created a product called Break The Ice. In this Jenga inspired game, players will strategically select a block, trying not to collapse the tower. The twist is that each block has a colored dot that corresponds to a certain type of card. Each card has a different question to answer or activity to complete in order to move on to the next turn. This results in the players not only having fun, but getting to know each other better as a whole. 

“This will give businesses and teachers a great ice breaker game to play in a business meeting or class to help build relationships and break down social barriers in the workplace and the classroom,” senior CEO Chris Maag said. 

Another company, Disease Defense, created is a reusable cover called the Shopping Shield that you can slip onto the dirty handle on your shopping carts. Especially with COVID-19, it is more important than ever to be aware of the germs that are spreading. It’s durable, affordable, and washable. 

“The key to any successful business is identifying a customer problem and finding a solution to it. Now with COVID it is more important than ever to stay away from germs. The shopping cart handle has more germs than your actual toilet seat,” Nieporte said.  

The final company, Whole House, creates magnets with custom designs to place on your refrigerator, cabinet or any other magnetic space.

 “Our company is called Whole House and we create and sell uplifting and custom magnets to spread awareness and how much people care during a time when people aren’t as connected,” company VP Roman Wells said. 

Students such as Wells know that any product, no matter how small, can make a difference. No matter the size of the company, people will be affected. 

“We have a small product, but not without impact, because we believe that the little things are what makes a house whole,” Wells said. 

The upcoming month is an exciting one for these students and their products. 

“We are still working through prototyping and sourcing materials, as well as preparing our students to make a pitch for start-up funds. This is much like a Shark-Tank style pitch, where the sharks are local area business professionals,” DeFays said. 

Experiences like this will be enjoyable as well as extremely valuable for these students, who will learn lessons in professionalism, money and time management, entrepreneurship, and teamwork. 

“I’m really looking forward to the experience of running the company and making money,” senior CEO Matthew Garfinkle said. 

Many of these seniors, like Garfinkle, are planning on going into business in college. The experiences that they will learn through these companies will carry with them into their lives beyond high school and give them a great head start on their business career. 

“I feel that it’s going to be extremely worthwhile and an experience I would recommend for anyone, especially someone interested in studying business in high school or college,” Garfinkle said.