Oklahoma FCCLA Students Eagerly Competed in FCCLA Virtual Business Challenge For Chance to Qualify For Nationals

by Jeff Rutherford

When Heather Gottsch, FCCLA Advisor and Family and Consumer Sciences teacher at Cherokee High School in Oklahoma, read about the FCCLA Virtual Business Challenge in one of the email newsletters that the FCCLA National Office sends, she was interested.

“I knew immediately that I wanted my students to compete, so I followed the link to the information and also accessed the FCCLA Competitive Events Manual to find out more information,” Gottsch said.

Gottsch ended up with twelve FCCLA members competing in the Virtual Business Challenge. Five more students formed teams for the FCCLA Virtual Business Challenge but didn’t end up competing. More students are already planning on competing in next year’s challenge.

“Once word spread about how successful the twelve members competing had been, the interest in the Virtual Business Challenge spread very quickly.”

At the conclusion of the first round of the FCCLA Virtual Business Challenge that ended November 21st, Gottsch ended up with four teams ranked as national finalists.

Marci Hargrove

The Virtual Business - Personal Finance simulation - the sim used for the FCCLA Virtual Business Challenge - appeals to many of Gottsch’s students.

“The students we teach and influence today are living in a technology-driven world. They have never lived in a world without the constant and readily available access to technology. Because of this, the Virtual Business programs feed right into their niche,” Gottsch said.

The challenge and competitive nature of the FCCLA Virtual Business Challenge - an online competition that pits high school students from across the U.S. against each other for the opportunity to win the chance to attend FCCLA’s National Leadership meeting in Nashville - inspired Gottsch’s students.

“My teams competing from my chapter had the same ultimate goal - to make the finals and be able to travel to Nashville to compete at National Leadership Meeting. However, they became ultra competitive against each other, trying to up their net worth so that they could finish highest out of our four teams,” Gottsch said.

In addition to encouraging her FCCLA students to participate in the Virtual Business Challenge, Gottsch also uses the Virtual Business - Personal Finance online simulation in her classroom. In Oklahoma, every student must complete a Financial Literacy course to graduate. At Cherokee High School, the financial literacy course was moved into Gottsch’s Family and Consumer Sciences program. Gottsch knew about Knowledge Matters’ Virtual Business simulations, because a colleague at a former school had used the simulations in their classroom.

“I knew whatever I chose would need to be easily adaptable, flexible, and somewhat self-paced. I am very fortunate that my school purchased a site license of the Virtual Business - Personal Finance program. The Virtual Business - Personal Finance simulation works perfectly for me and my students,” Gottsch said.

Virtual Business - Personal Finance takes up about 40% of Gottsch’s classroom time. The remaining time is split between traditional instruction and another online program aligned with the Oklahoma Financial Literacy Standards.

“I know some adults that are not able to complete a 1040EZ form. With the help of VB, I am proud to say that many 14-18 year olds at Cherokee High School can,” Gottsch said. “Virtual Business - Personal Finance has brought the "real world" into my classroom and has given my students a head start on living life after high school.”

Gottsch’s students’ FCCLA Virtual Business Challenge Feedback

As mentioned, Gottsch’s students have enjoyed the Virtual Business Challenge.

“I was pretty excited knowing I was going to get to go to Nashville,” Dakota said about qualiyfing for FCCLA Nationals.

Marci Hargrove

Kyla, another student, is excited about the chance to compete live at Nationals. “But, I’m also kind of nervous too,” she said.

FCCLA members competing in the Virtual Business Challenge try multiple strategies to get a higher net worth. Gottsch’s students have their own tips.

“Do the sim as many times as you need to get a higher net worth,” Kyla said. (Reminder - Virtual Business Challenge participants can run the sim as many times as they want. Knowledge Matters will only keep a record of your highest score).

And remember the basics. “Don’t forget to buy food and pay bills,” Kaitlyn said.

FCCLA Advisors Should Encourage Their FCCLA Chapters To Give the Virtual Business Challenge A Try Next School Year

Gottsch recommends that FCCLA advisors consider encouraging their students to participate in next year’s Virtual Business Challenge.

“The competitive events that FCCLA offers for members are great and I believe an integral part of building and maintaining a successful FCCLA Chapter. The Virtual Business Challenge has been a great experience for my students. Some of my students who competed are intimidated by STAR Events. This challenge has given those students the opportunity to compete and has built their confidence in themselves. It is an excellent program and an excellent way to get students to qualify for National Leadership Meeting, which in turn opens up a whole new world for many of these students,” Gottsch said.”The Challenge fostered a climate of teamwork amongst each team and throughout our chapter. It built and improved their communication skills, developed critical thinking skills, and exposed them to real world scenarios without ever leaving the classroom. I would encourage every FCCLA adviser to consider implementing the Virtual Business Challenge in their chapter - whether they teach a Financial Literacy or Personal Finance class or not!”

If you’re a FCCLA advisor, please make a note on your calendar for the fall. Next year’s FCCLA Virtual Business Challenge will begin registration in early October. Your FCCLA students will love competing as much as Gottsch’s students have.

Marci Hargrove