Cary-Grove students headed to national business competition

Cary-Grove High School's entrepreneurship students will compete in the VEI Youth Business Summit and National Business Plan Competition this spring in New York.

Seven student spent months working on a business plan for an engraving company for VEI (Virtual Enterprises International) - an entrepreneurship class offered at more than 500 high schools nationwide. They qualified for the national competition by finishing among the finalists at the State Business Plan Competition this month at Northern Illinois University.

"We focused on our first pitch, and rehearsed it over and over making sure it sounded perfect," student Kelly Stayart said. "To represent not only our school and community but the state of Illinois in New York is an incredible opportunity, and we are beyond excited."

To learn how their proposed virtual engraving business would operate in the real world, students met with a dozen business professionals, visited TOBG Engraving in Crystal Lake, partnered with the industrial tech department at Cary-Grove and conducted focus groups with members of the high school booster club. They mastered their presentation skills by inviting school drama sponsor Laura Whalen and speech coach Stephanie Sukow to evaluate them.

"All the teams put in a lot of work and they have a sense of pride for what they've done," said David Cook, VEI teacher at Cary-Grove. "This has high stakes, and that has motivated these future business leaders to put in the hours of overtime outside of class."

The entrepreneurship students host an open house Jan. 9 at Cary-Grove to meet with community members interested in learning more about the team and getting feedback on the business plan. People wanting to attend can contact Cook at

The national competition is April 16-18. The team is fundraising through YouCaring to help with expenses.

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