Strike A Pose and Vandalay are two corporations you might not run
into in the real world of business, but for students at John
Burroughs High School, it's a course in virtual reality.
Strike A Pose has 20 employees and offers the media industry
photography services and a place to rent costumes, domestically and
abroad. Vandalay, also with 20 employees, has function and event
coordination as its moneymaker.
This virtual enterprise, e-marketing regional occupation program
allows students to buy and sell goods, services and ideas in an
electronic virtual commerce environment.
"The course has been designed for the culminating class in the
Business Academy, where students use all their computer skills,
decision-making and distribution skills to learn about business
management, including Web design," Sue Boegh, director of educational
support services for Burbank Unified School District said. "Students
earn virtual salaries, pay virtual taxes and practice budget
The program starts in 10th grade with business management, carries
on into 11th grade with accounting and in their senior year students
become virtual business moguls.
Instructor Dale Hunzinger said they are hoping to offer computer
application in ninth grade next year as part of the program so
students can develop good computer knowledge.
"This program began in New York state and has now spread to more
than 200 schools across the country and as far away as Taipei and
Uganda," Hunzinger said. "This course is real world oriented and
helps to draw the students out of Burbank into the bigger picture."
Students were interviewed, job descriptions were written and
salaries were determined based on local businesses before the
companies could apply for a business loan through one of the virtual
One department handles technology and takes care of the Web page
design. Another deals with sales and marketing and develops the
catalogs and advertising for the online sales. A third department
deals with finances and handles all payroll and taxes for the
business, as well as all personal financial transactions. Each
student is required to spend their virtual paychecks on cars, homes,
rent, food or other expenses they may incur. The human relations
department created its own manual on dealing with personnel issues.
The community played a big part in setting up the human relations
department for Strike A Pose, according to Natassja Aspelin, the
virtual company's vice president of human relations.
"We went to businesses around Burbank and asked them what they had
in their manual so it was pretty much a collaboration," Natassja
Oscar Aguilar, corporate executive officer of Strike A Pose, said
the class is good training for a career in business.
"Every employee in here has gone for an interview so you learn not
to stumble at the real thing," Oscar said. "Here, you learn to deal
with and handle the challenges as they come up."
Executive administrative assistant Rick Sobalvarro of Vandalay
said business is running nicely.
"We've set up an entire business in 15 weeks and we're making
money," Rick said. "This could lead to starting my own business."
The virtual business class will compete in two trade fairs next
semester, one in San Diego in February, the other in San Francisco in