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In The Classroom: A virtual overload

Students' pretend business gives them lessons they can use in real world.

June 03, 2010|By Britney Barnes

Being chief executive of a company isn't easy, especially when the company is being built from the ground up, but 17-year-old Jade Talley has made it work, despite what she had thought.

"I didn't know I could actually do this job," she said. "I learned I can do about anything from this job."

Jade is the CEO of System Overload, a virtual company that sells virtual products for virtual money. Although a lot of pretending goes into the endeavor, the work put into it and the lessons taken out of it were real.

In Marina High School's Regional Occupation Prorgram, or ROP, Virtual Enterprise class, students learned how to build a business from soup to nuts and created System Overload, selling video games, consoles, accessories and robots. The 27 students, who have been working through lunches, after and before school throughout the year, came together the morning of May 27 to celebrate the grand opening of their mock business in Marina's cafeteria.

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"They always generate something unique and different, but that's their job — to think outside the box," Principal Paul Morrow said.

Students milled about the cafeteria looking through product catalogs and testing Guitar Hero and Super Mario Brothers, two of the business' wares, before deciding what to buy. Cake and punch were given to the first-time buyers, and Mayor Pro Tem Jill Hardy was on hand for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Students have been working all year, carefully selecting their products and creating everything from employee policies and spreadsheets to a website and press kits to make the business work, teacher Marilyn Cunneen said, who is also the company's "consultant."

"I want them to be able to keep a job once they get out in the real world," she said.

Cunneen said the experience helps many of the students get real jobs, and senior Gaige Bilich can attest to that.

The 18-year-old parlayed his work with System Overload to get his foot in the door of a home exterior design company — a field he wants a career in.

"[Virtual Enterprise] was the main reason why they hired me," he said.

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