Families moved around a terrace at the Hilton Costa Mesa/Orange County hotel, munching on cupcakes and cookies. With glasses of water and sparking apple cider in their hands, the families listened as students tried to sell them on their businesses.
"Do you like coffee?" junior Kurt Williams asked anyone who passed his booth.
Kurt created a virtual business delivering everything from cafe au lait, espresso and Mexican hot chocolate to milk and orange juice between midnight and 6 a.m.
Costa Mesa High School's Business Academy hosted a showcase Monday evening at the hotel on Bristol Street to give families a look at what their children have been working on all year.
For the juniors, it was a service or product company they could run in college. For the senior-level Virtual Enterprise class, it was two corporations that earned the students national awards.
"I think it's just a way to show the community and our parents all our work this year," said senior Raquel Friedmann, chief executive of Abeille.
For the juniors, the event was a chance to earn extra points by getting seniors to vote their company most viable — and give them a taste of what next year will be like, said teacher Cheri Sheldon.
At the senior level, it was all about showcasing the two corporations: the Great Park Wildlife Center and Abeille, which earned second and fifth place nationally, respectively.
The Great Park Wildlife Center is a petting zoo in Irvine's Great Park that uses only second-chance rescue animals and incorporates an educational component for local schoolchildren.
Abeille, which is French for bee, is an organic, humane beekeeping and pollination service that lends out bees to farms in need and sells honey and wax wholesale.
"It's been a fantastic year," said senior Cesar Chavez, chief executive of the Great Park Wildlife Center. "I couldn't ask for anything more."
The students gave a presentation on what it took to build a corporation and showcased the work — including business, marketing and public relations plans — that helped bring the companies to life.
The students made business cards, brochures, recipe books and a commercial. They even had employee uniforms, human relations manuals and received paychecks that went into their virtual bank accounts.
"The students truly have created virtual businesses that feel so real," said Michael Sciacca, the Business Academy coordinator.