JA In The News | Junior Achievement of Western New York

JA is Really Newsworthy!

And The Winners Are...

The annual U.S. JA Company of the Year Competition is a contest of business skills, ingenuity and innovation that focuses on the accomplishments of JA Company Program students, ages 15-19, during the 2011-2012 academic year.

This years competitors winners are...

1st place: Eagle Eye — Junior Achievement of Southern California Chaminade High School, West Hills, California

2nd place: Cast-A-Waste — Junior Achievement of San Diego Harmonium After School Program, San Diego, California

3rd place: Start-Up — Junior Achievement of Georgia Atlanta, Georgia

At&T Social Innovation Intensive Award: Rain Drain — Junior Achievement of Georgia and Junior Achievement of Southern California 

FedEx Access Award: Undefined — Junior Achievement of Southeast Texas Chinese Community Center, Houston, Texas

Best Financial Performance Award Presented by NYSE Euronext Foundation: Place Mate  — Junior Achievement of San Diego Westview High School, San Diego, California

Social Media Award: Undefined—Junior Achievement of Southeast Texas Chinese Community Center, Houston, Texas

Team G.O.L.D. - Persistence Pays Off!

Team: G.O.L.D. (Go Online and Delete) Company

Location: Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest

Student Story: Lanee Johnson, vice president of public relations

This year our team wanted to design a company around cyber-bullying since we all knew students that have been affected by it and knew it was a hot topic in the media that had become more prevalent with Facebook and Twitter.

We selected and designed a shirt with a strong message of action, believing it would be a big hit and that students and adults would buy a lot of shirts. What we discovered was there were so many other programs and clubs selling shirts and our students don’t have a lot of money to buy shirts, so competition was very challenging and shirt sales were very low and members were losing their drive to sell shirts.

We then decided to create an event that would help to sell shirts. We searched for a great speaker and either a skit, song, or dance to engage a young audience. When the members contacted the theatre teacher, we discovered his

students were so busy getting ready for a spring play, so none of them were available to work with us. We then contacted the executive director, Julie Young-Burns, from Safe and Drug Free Schools at Minneapolis Public Schools and discovered she only presented to parents and adults and had no materials for teens or younger audiences. And then we met with our school administers and were told the auditorium would not be available until April, since it was being used for community events and the school spring play.

Everything we were trying to do was not working out and so the officers got together to develop a new plan to present to our advisor, Mrs. Poelstra and Shane Cropper, Best Buy volunteer.

At our Thursday meeting, the students proposed a plan to quit and give the G.O.L.D company idea to the new group of members next year who could start right away in October and would have much more time to work on the plans. Mrs. Poelstra and Mr. Cropper told us that was not an option and that instead of quitting we needed to change our plan. Then Mr. Cropper shared with us how Best Buy got started and all the struggles and challenges the founder, Richard, had when his first warehouse burned down. Due to his challenges, it created an opportunity to come up with another plan and look at where Best Buy is today.

We all got recharged and changed our plan. The new plan consisted of having the Young Madness Steppers (dance team at Thomas Edison) and Alison Feigh, M.S. Community Safety Specialist from the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center, as our speaker for our assembly turned out to be a better selection that really engaged and educated the students. And in turn, we invited Julie Young-Burns to the assembly and gave her a copy of the DVD we made of the assembly so she could use it during her presentations. We then made copies and gave to all the Minneapolis Public Schools.

We won first place in Regional’s and have now qualified for Nationals and never would have been able to do any of this if we would have given up.

Student Story: Matthew Vue, president

A big obstacle that I had to deal with in the G.O.L.D Company was in relation to my attendance at the meetings. As President, I was required to be at every meeting, which was very hard and challenging since I was a senior and taking all my classes (but Physics) at a community college through the Post-secondary Education program. It seemed like the scholarships, college applications, and deadlines that I was working on were due at the same time all the work was due for G.O.L.D. Being a part of the program really taught me time management skills.

After we won Regional’s in April, we had to keep selling our t-shirts and promoting our program to gear up for Nationals, which was even more challenging since we had projects, finals, and graduation.

This summer we faced another huge challenge and that was in creating a commercial for the National Competition. We succeeded though through team collaboration and time management.

One day we selected to meet to video tape, but our advisor could not be there since she just had surgery on her shoulder and one of our other officers was in Mexico. However, we met anyway and were able to use parts from each to create our video. We learned that persistence pays off!

Check out team G.O.L.D.'s event flyer!

Team Eagle Eye

Team: Eagle Eye

Location: JA of Southern California

Innovative Products: This sports media business has created college recruitment packages for high school athletes and demo videos for coaches. Eagle Eye employees attend games, collect video footage of the players, and edit together individual DVDs based on presale orders to showcase their customer’s skill.

From the Student’s Perspective: Zach Miller, vice president of sales and finance

For the better part of high school, I always seemed to have a penchant for business. Finally when I became a senior, I was able to get involved in the field that would soon become a passion of mine. In August of 2011, I joined Chaminade’s Eagle Business Program, which implemented JA’s Company Program. This was the first time I heard of the organization Junior Achievement. From this program we formed the student run company known as Eagle Eye.  Eagle Eye is great.  From the real world experience to the daily interactions, I love everything that the business has to offer.  I was soon named vice president of sales and finance. Eagle Eye would never have been possible if it weren’t for the plentiful opportunities that JA provided. It gave us the necessary boost to run our own company and provided knowledge that allows the business to run smoothly.  I think it is safe to say that Junior Achievement was monumental in helping Eagle Eye develop into what it is today.

As a salesman during the school year, there were sometimes when we had difficulties finding players interested in our services.  I looked through the list of athletes that I could contact and found a name that I was somewhat familiar with: Pierce Milliken.  I contacted him right away trying to get him interested in the Eagle Eye DVDs.  He said he’d pass the message along to his mom, so in my mind, I looked at this opportunity as a failed sale.  A week later, I bumped into his mom around school, and she talked to me about buying copies of some of the games.  I made the sale on the spot, and I remember the satisfying feeling of placing a hefty check in my pocket before turning it in to the finance department.

Since I was also Pierce’s customer service rep, it was my job to follow up and make sure all was well with the sale. I came in contact with his mom again and she told me the story as to why she made this purchase.  Her father, Pierce’s granddad, was seriously ill and had been confined to his hospital bed for months.  He never got to see Pierce play football on Friday nights.  Every week, I would deliver Pierce the copy of a game and he would give it to his grandpa, who would watch them in the hospital.  Mrs. Milliken talked to me about the joy he received by watching these games and how it gave him something he could look forward to during those times of struggle. He passed away with only a few weeks remaining in the season, but the impact on Pierce and myself lasted much longer than that.

I was happy to know that Eagle Eye was able to leave a lasting effect on the community rather than just on the local business level.  Without Junior Achievement to get us started, none of this would have been possible. For me, I would not have been able to experience how great a joy it is to help people rather than just make money. I am truly grateful for JA’s existence as it has influenced this company into making a huge, positive impact on the community, and on Pierce’s family.

Team D.R.E.A.M. Big

Team: D.R.E.A.M. Big

Location: Junior Achievement of Georgia- Atlanta District

Turning Obstacles into Growth and Success: This team had to overcome strong personalities. Overtime, these varied personalities became the driving force for the company to succeed. This obstacle positioned the student company president to exemplify outstanding leadership abilities.

Innovative Products: This experience has taught the team skills in time management, teamwork, communication and leadership. The experience significantly inspired students to explore careers in business at a deeper level.

Getting to Know the Teams: Although both of the groups’ products were successful in bringing in profits, the team desired to allow the dream catchers to serve as an accessory to promote happy dreams and ultimately granting the wishes of severely ill children through the teams charity, Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Meet Ashley Nowak representing D.R.E.A.M. Big from Atlanta!

Team Start Up

Team: Start Up

Location: Junior Achievement of Georgia- Atlanta District

Turning Obstacles into Success: As a whole, the team experienced a learning curve as they adjusted to responsibility and learned to collaborate together as a group. Although some students were overachievers and other required more motivation to remain on task, they collectively resolved to develop a great concept that appealed to a wide range of buyers.

Innovative Products: Hand-painted rivet; this product served as artistic in nature and functional in design.

Getting to Know the Teams: The make-up of this group consists of successful students who have grown together. This growth came with the need to compromise, persevere, mature, communicate and develop conflict management skills.

Meet Andrew Shutzberg who represented team Start Up from Atlanta at the National Leadership Summit!

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