In early spring 2021, four teams of students from Maine East High School, coached by their teacher Dale Lasky, participated in the NIU Business Olympics, an annual event with five business challenges: accountancy data visualization, big pitch, digital marketing, mobile app idea, and valuation challenge. Maine East is one of Chicago’s many near north suburban schools with an Olympian spirit that has been represented in the NIU Business Olympics every year since its founding in 2017.
In this post, Maine East students and their coach share their views on this year’s competition, which welcomed more than 160 students from 17 Chicago metro area high schools and two overseas institutions, and was held entirely online due to COVID-19.
The NIU Business Olympics is a terrific opportunity for high school students to gain valuable skills that will benefit them in their future college experiences and throughout their professional careers. By working together to solve real-world problems, my students were able to learn how to do actual business research within a team setting. The communication skills that were necessary for success are transferable, and the strong bond they each have for one another will be lasting. Overall, this competition offers students more than the chance to win great prizes, but an opportunity to learn how to become successful business professionals. Thank you for all your hard work and creativity in making this event so incredibly fun and educational!
Dale Lasky, Maine East High School teacher and team coach
Silver Aces (digital marketing competition). For our competition, we focused on creating a website that would attract customers to Vince’s Pizzeria (the local business we chose) while maintaining the factors they were trying to build. We linked their Facebook and other social media accounts to create a community with their customers. Our work is unique because we contributed our personalities through the website we created. We care about the business itself, so we called Vince’s to get their input. Our experience with the NIU business competition was very positive. Our group thought it was a fun and interesting learning experience. We didn’t really know how to start from the beginning because we have never done anything like this, but once we got started, we figured our way through it. Some of our team members found their interest in marketing through this competition. Since all our meetings for the competition were virtual, we learned good communication and teamwork skills. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in a competition like this! We look forward to participating in more as this club progresses.
Team Silicon (valuation challenge, accountancy data visualization and digital marketing competition). Team Silicon won second place in the data visualization challenge and the digital marketing competition. Our team’s work is unique because we each bring different specialties and views. Some like designing PowerPoint slides and websites. Some like focusing on financial data and some like analyzing qualitative data. Overall, the experience was great because we learned how to adapt in a virtual environment and still have fun. I learned that I could adapt regardless of the circumstances that come about while also being able to work efficiently.
Wolves of Dee Park (valuation challenge). Wolves of Dee Park won first place in the valuation challenge. We focused specifically on the merger and on companies in a specific sector. The experience was influential and having the chance to apply business skills to an actual model was educational for us. Some on our team learned that they like utilizing specific skills: working with numbers or working on the technical aspects of projects.
Team 808 (digital marketing). Team 808 won first place in the digital marketing competition. The focus of our team was to work on different parts of the project while at the same time checking in with each other to make sure the work was quality and making sure that all the parts went together. We always made sure to have fun and to never see it as something like a chore. Through having fun and joking around while working, it allowed us to work better and be more productive. I am very grateful to NIU for accommodating the students through their online competition. Even though it was online, it was a great experience that I will not forget. We came to realize that if you apply yourself and truly put effort and passion into what you do, you can achieve what you want.
Learn more about the 2021 NIU Business Olympics.