Centennial leads KHSD's strong showing at Virtual Enterprise – Yahoo News

Jan. 27—Centennial High's Virtual Enterprise team, dubbed Go Gather, posed for photos as family and friends repeatedly tapped on their phones' camera setting Friday at Mechanics Bank Arena.
Ironically, phones were a problem to be solved by Go Gather when the team designed the product that won the business plan competition, known as the main event, in Friday's Virtual Enterprise California State Conference & Exhibition.
Go Gather is a subscription box service designed to take teenagers off their phones and get them to socialize in person. Each month a new activity arrives with a different theme to coax customers to interact in person.
"Starting the whole business from step one all the way to now, I'm still shaking because of how amazing it is," Centennial's team CEO Vaishvi Joshi said. "Standing up there with my team with the people I've been working with since October is like an experience that I can't even put into words."
Centennial's business plan team also included: Juliana Goyenetche, Robert Lopez, Aden Stovall and Tharun Thiagarajan.
Students from across the state — a significant chunk of them from Kern County — competed in business situations, pitching virtual products they produced on their own. The Kern High School District was a big winner with Bakersfield High, Ridgeview and Stockdale also landing in the top five.
The top eight teams from California advance to the national competition April 17-19 in New York, at Long Island University's Brooklyn Campus.
BHS, which finished second in the nation last year and has won three national titles, advanced to the national competition for the 11th consecutive time.
Ridgeview's two teams finished third (The Eco Depot) and fourth (Youforia). Last year, Ridgeview won first and second in the business plan competition, which had been unprecedented in the event's history, said Brian Miller, principal of the Kern High Regional Occupational Programs.
Three years ago, when Miguel Garcia became Ridgeview's Virtual Enterprise coordinator, he said there were just six students in the program.
Earlier this week, Garcia, 24, read an article that appeared in The Californian to his class because the story about VE hardly mentioned Ridgeview.
"I like to motivate my kids," Garcia said. "I'm a young guy. I went to East High School. I'm used to being the underdog … I told them: 'This is what everyone thinks about you. They're counting you out. Do you believe?' I lit a fire in them."
Garcia, as well as Centennial's VE teacher, Jaci Elliott, said the business community is a big reason why Kern County schools succeed at the business competition.
Claudia Aquino, who served as a mentor for Ridgeview, has volunteered with VE for 20 years, helping BHS, East, South, Centennial, Stockdale and Ridgeview. She retired in 2016 and about two years ago she moved to Oxnard.
"It's really rewarding to have the time with these students," she said. "I've been here all week. I love it. It's just amazing. It's an incredible program."
Elliott credited Bryce Sterling, Centennial's mentor, for being instrumental in the team's success. Elliott is in her eight year and celebrated her first business plan state title win with her team. Centennial finished five times in the state's top six under Elliott. Centennial has won the national title twice, in 2006 and 2013, according to information from Jacob Stuebbe, a Centennial alumnus and former VE teacher at BHS.
Miller said the annual event in Bakersfield was "fantastic." Roughly 2,000 students from 70 teams competed. Organizers rented out The BLVD — a restaurant with bowling, entertainment and games — Thursday night for all the students involved.
"They had a great time," Miller said. "This is what it's all about for them: networking and meeting other students, the opportunity to put into play what they've been learning in class. This is a very hands-on program. Most kids enjoy learning that kind of way. It gives them a good taste of the business world."
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