Saipan Southern High School emerged as the big winner in this year's Junior Achievement competition after being hailed as the contest's Company of the Year awardee during the awarding rites Saturday at Saipan World Resort.
The Manta Ray group, headed by their president Yoshi Yagi, also bagged the Best in Presentation and Commercial award as well as Best in Annual Report award.
SSHS' Coco-Yo Company topped the competition after demonstrating excellence in manufacturing and promoting their product called “Treasure Nut,” sold to tourists as souvenir items from the islands. The product, which costs $8 apiece, was showcased at a recent trade fair where the company posted a profit of over $300.
For Yagi, there's nothing more fulfilling than to see the group's hard work paying off. All three major awards, including Best in Presentation and Commercial and Best in Annual Report, he said, are proof that the 25 members worked together as a team.
There were three public high schools that competed in this year's contest. Kagman High School's Express It! was recipient of the Best at Trade Fair award, while the group's president, Jolisa Pangelinan, was named the President of the Year after demonstrating excellent leadership and capability in the actual handling of an enterprise.
The 18-year-old entrepreneur lauded the support and cooperation of each of the 17 members of the company. She praised the JA program for giving her one of the best experiences in her life. She said it is her dream to become a successful entrepreneur later on.
Besides Pangelinan, four members of the company bagged other individual awards: Jadrien Lotoc as Finance Vice President of the Year; Carlo Ballesteros as Human Resource VP of the Year; Brandon Santos as VP Marketing of the Year; and Malaina Kileleman as VP Production of the Year awardee.
Meantime, the competition's Perseverance Award went to Marianas High School's Fuerte Vici company and its member William Guan was hailed Public Relations VP of the Year awardee.
The Junior Achievement program aims to cultivate work-readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy among students by engaging them in the practical experience of running a business. This year, three school teams joined the competition that ran from January to April with the goal of bringing to the table a unique product for consumers.
According to Frances Ulloa, PSS event coordinator, the competition marked another successful year of the JA Program in the CNMI. She said PSS will invite private schools to participate next year. Seeing the hard work and products of all the teams makes Ulloa confident that the JA program will produce more and more business leaders and entrepreneurs for the CNMI.
Besides the major awards, PSS also presented certificates of recognition to all program partners in government and private businesses who mentored the school teams.
The JA program was revived in the CNMI through the collaboration of PSS, Junior Achievement of Guam, Northern Marianas College, and the Commonwealth Development Authority.
This year, the student companies are led by their student management team and advised by volunteers from local businesses. Kagman High School was advised by Bank of Hawaii and YCO Corp., Marianas High School by the Rotary Club of Saipan and Marianas Variety, and Saipan Southern High School by the CNMI Department of Commerce, the CNMI Small Business Development Center, and IP&E.