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High school students show virtual skills at Genesee CC trade fair

BATAVIA – There was nothing make-believe about the excitement generated by the competitive spirit of dozens of high school students Wednesday morning at a virtual business trade fair hosted by Genesee Community College.

Eleven companies representing nine schools in Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming counties took part in the annual event that showcases the students’ yearlong entrepreneurial endeavors.

“We have fulfilled our tasks reasonably well and our sales are going through the roof,” said Joseph Falkowski, a senior at Notre Dame High School and the human resources manager for his virtual company called The Cupcakery. “It’s our salesmanship that’s bringing the people in.”

Falkowski said he was confident that his business would be among the trade fair leaders as he watched customers gather around the booth to purchase his specialty cupcakes.

Classmate Joe Zickl, in his role as marketing executive, said he was proud of their product catalog and seasonal and holiday packages.

“We had specials for Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day,” he said. “Our job is to get our products to the customers.”

Notre Dame’s entry into the trade fair was part of the curriculum of the Principles of Business class through Genesee Community College.

“It’s as close to a real business as possible, and it’s primarily student-driven,” said Lindsay Warner, business teacher/workplace learning coordinator.

The virtual trade fair consists of the same companies that participated in a Professional Day in the fall, where they introduced themselves to one another and presented their business plans through skits and videos.

“These are the same students who started the school year, worked in their classrooms buying and selling through their websites with the other companies, and developed their sales, marketing, accounting and human resources departments,” said Deborah K. Dunlevy, career pathways coordinator at the college.

Dunlevy said the trade fair is part of and coordinated by GCC’s Accelerated College Enrollment program. “The vendors are all here, selling their wares just like they would at any other trade fair, except the products are virtual products,” she said.

“The students get $5,000 in virtual money to spend anywhere but on their own companies, while visitors (parents, GCC students and staff) all get $10,000 of virtual money to spend.”

Le Roy’s business, Oatkan Outdoors, sold outdoor lawn games, apparel, shoes, boats and, surprisingly, puppies.

“We wanted to bring in things that we liked, and we all like Dick’s Sporting Goods. Plus we added puppies – everyone loves puppies,” said junior Jamie Englerth, company president.

Over at Sugar Shack, purveyor of candies, popcorn, chocolates, candles and gift baskets, CEO Alex Rebmann, a senior at Batavia High, said she learned a great deal about what takes place “behind-the-scenes” and also sharpened her communication skills.

Rebmann, a part-time supervisor at BJ’s Wholesale Club in Batavia, said she hopes to attend the University of Buffalo to major in business administration.