WINTER HAVEN – Business is booming in the marketing and graphic design classrooms of Lake Region High School and the school was recently recognized nationally by DECA, Inc. because of it.
The school-based enterprise at Lake Region High School of iMAGINATION Inc. Academy achieved Gold-Level Certification (or Gold-Level Recertification) from DECA this year.
Tresa Warner, the Marketing and Graphic Design Academy advisor at Lake Region, assisted students Taylor Mims and Daisy Gonzales on the recertification.
The Marketing and Graphic Design Academy is a school-based enterprise (SBE) — an entrepreneurial operation in a school setting that provides goods and services to meet the needs of the market. In the Academy, there are nine different small businesses: office, print shop, design, dye sublimation, laser engraving, screen printing, vinyl and vinyl transfer.
According to Warner, the businesses combined to net between $30 and $40,000 a year. The students begin as freshmen, starting at IMAC Level 1, Marketing and Graphic Design 101. By the end of the school year, they are certified on Adobe Illustrator.
Sophomores advance to Level 2 and learn about advertising and promotion of businesses. The students add Adobe Photoshop certification to their accomplishments.
As juniors, the students have to apply for jobs at one of the nine businesses. They compete for positions against other students, while the seniors conduct the interview process. Once the new employees are selected, they are trained for their job by the seniors.
“The kids have to figure out how to handle business issues, like conflict resolution and meeting deadlines,” Warner explained.
Daisy Gonzales, a junior, is one of the office employees and said that being a part of the Academy has helped her learn communication skills.
“At first I was scared when I had to talk to customers,” Gonzales said. “But, now it’s easy to discuss what we can offer. I really like to show customers around the Academy.”
The Academy first received Gold Level Certification two years ago, but must recertify every year. DECA asks for different portions of the business plan originally submitted to be updated for recertification.
“This helps improve and update the business plans,” Warner said. “It makes us look at what we can do differently and better.”
Gonzales and Taylor Mims volunteered to submit the criteria for the recertification. The areas selected for the Academy to submit were market planning, selling and human resource management.
“It was pretty easy to do because it dealt a lot with customer service and that’s what I do,” said Gonzales.
Mims agreed that it was relatively easy for them to do, since the each have such a wealth of experience working in the businesses.
“We go over so much that was included in the recertification in the Academy that it wasn’t really hard for us,” Mims said.
When DECA originally received the submission for certification, Warner said the organization called her after reading it and the staffers couldn’t believe the magnitude of business conducted by the Academy at Lake Region.
In 2007, the Academy of Marketing and Graphic Design opened, and there are currently 200 students enrolled. The Academy’s customers are local businesses, other schools and various individuals.
Gonzales said that people are surprised when they visit the Academy’s area, even other students.
“They are surprised at the extent of how much we do and that we are like real businesses,” Gonzales said.
Mims said that she plans to major in marketing at Florida Southern College.
“The Academy is like a second home to me and the other kids are like my family,” Mims said. “It’s such a positive atmosphere. I am definitely going to miss it when I graduate.”
The Education Connection is a series sponsored by the Greater Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce and D-R Media & Investments, LLC. Schools need help from their communities to succeed, and today’s schools build tomorrow’s workforce. These articles will outline some of the good things happening and how interested parties can become involved.