The Bear Necessities, a school-based enterprise (SBE) at Blacksburg High School, has earned DECA’s gold level recertification for the 2020-2021 school year, the 13th straight year the business has achieved the organization’s highest honor.
Store managers Joe Bowen and Samantha Skinner, along with their classmates, developed a “pivot” business plan to remain operational. Bowen said, “Our team members had to think of new and innovative ways to keep the business running and successful. We added new items to our inventory, like face masks, to stay-up to-date with the needs of our customers.”
Bowen and Skinner have already presented the business at Virginia DECA’s virtual state leadership conference and qualified to present the business at DECA’s virtual international career development conference in April.
“The Bear Necessities has achieved gold status with National DECA for 13 consecutive years now, and this may be the year that I’m the proudest of my students,” said marketing teacher and DECA advisor Kim Radford.
Formerly Distributive Education Clubs of America, DECA is a 501 not-for-profit career and technical student organization. It prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe.
The Blacksburg High students are currently researching additional items to add to their inventory, including new hoodies and framed letters. “Our research shows many students might not want a letter jacket, so we believe the framed letters will be a great alternative,” said Skinner.
“The students were really challenged to complete the submission manual while being in a primarily remote learning environment,” Radford said. “They took ownership of the project, researched our operation and pivoted normal business practices in order to determine the innovation required to complete the manual. The manual judge awarded them ‘exceeds expectations’ for each performance indicator covered. The students presented outstanding work.”
A school-based enterprise or SBE is a student-run business providing goods and services desired by a specific target market. Blacksburg High School’s SBE is managed by Radford’s DE Sports Management class. A hands-on lab experience, SBEs contribute to the development of 21st century skills for students.
Along with the store’s receiving Gold Level Recertification, eight students in the class passed the SBE Certification Exam: Joe Bowen, Luke Boyle, Robert Cowan, Tate Harrison, Mason Lattimer, Samantha Skinner, Alexis Snyder, and Ethan St. Martin. The exam covers areas such as market planning, research, operations and distribution management, promotion, selling, human resource management, finance, nd pricing and product/service management.
An SBE can be certified at 3 levels: bronze, silver, and gold. To obtain any of these certifications, an SBE must go through extensive work to put together a manual that explains how students run a successful, operational business.