KACC Students Earn National Gold Medal
Kansas City, Mo., June 24, 2011, 6:00 p.m. – A team of four students from Kankakee Area Career Center just how passionate our youth is about the business world and what it takes to be successful in it. The team was awarded the Gold Medal in the Entrepreneurship Team contest at the annual National Leadership and Skills Conference and SkillsUSA Championships. The competition was held at H. Roe Bartle Hall, Municipal Auditorium and American Royal in Kansas City Missouri, on June 22 and 23, 2011.
Jake Hines, Andrew Bond, Giovanni Schiavone and Brianna Jones spent 3 days competing against gold medal teams from 14 other states to showcase their business concept to judges from business, industry and education. Hines and Bond, both 2011 graduates of Herscher High School, Schiavone, a junior at Beecher High School, and Jones, a 2011 graduate of St. Anne High School became involved with this project as part of their Business Management class at the Career Center.
The team event tests students’ knowledge in starting their own business by developing an in-depth, comprehensive business plan which identifies products and/or services in a local market. Emphasis is placed on financial planning and practicality of products/services. Teams give an oral presentation based on their written plans. The degree of difficulty is magnified by each team having to create and successfully present their solution to a challenge put forth by the judges. The challenge is similar to a typical problem encountered by entrepreneurs in their first year of business.
The gold medal business entrepreneurship plan was for a new development, Woodhaven Estates, a destination concept combining a 5 acre vineyard/winery, special event venue and on-site bed & breakfast on a 55-acre property site in the Kankakee River Valley. The project, which took several months to research and prepare, blends the industries of agriculture, hospitality and tourism, and presented the students with an opportunity to learn about grant funding, demographics, marketing and management.
The path to the National competition began in November, with brainstorming about ideas and researching the market. Learning how to write a business plan, and then applying that knowledge was the next step, followed by preparing and practicing a professional presentation of the concept. The team then had to present their plan at the Illinois SkillsUSA State Leadership Conference and win a gold medal there in order to be eligible to move on to the National Competition.
Indicative of the real world of business, the dynamics of teamwork were integral to this group’s success. When one of the original State team members, Joe Volek (a senior from Beecher High School) was unable to attend National competition, Jones (originally an alternate for the State team) stepped up to the plate and filled that role. The students adapted to the change and worked together to adjust presentation styles and roles within the group. Volek continued to work with the team, critiquing practice presentations and posing questions to prepare them for challenges that might be given to the team at the next level.
The SkillsUSA Championships is considered the largest single day of corporate volunteerism in America and valued at $35 million in industry support of donated time, equipment, cash and material. All contests are run by and judged by industry using industry standards for employment. Over 1,000 industry judges participated this year.
All winners receive medallions and frequently receive tools of their trade and/or scholarships to further their careers and education. The SkillsUSA Championships is for high school and college-level students who are members of SkillsUSA. More than 5,500 students from every state and three territories competed in 94 contests in technical, skilled, and service occupations, including health occupations this year. In order to qualify for the national competition, the students competed in local and state contests. The state gold medal winners advanced to the national SkillsUSA Championships.
*A complete list of winners is available only. Go to http://www.skillsusa.org/compete/results.shtml. In addition, trade releases specific to each contest area are located at http://www.skillsusa.org/about/mediakit/shtml. Group winner photos are available for the press and trade magazines, but can’t be provided until a week or so after we return.