Bakersfield’s got talent — and how

Originally published on April 17, 2013 in the Bakersfield Californian

Article by contributing columnist Scott Cox

This week’s cool stuff is almost entirely about teenagers. I know what you’re thinking: Kids these days, with their YooHoo and their Spirographs — they’re just no good. Well then I have good news on two fronts.

First up are the kids from Centennial High School’s Virtual Business squad. They’re not actually called that, but they should be. These five young braniacs — Casey HooverMcCall MillerJarrett Buntley,Brooke Wheeler and Kandis Cornelius — traveled to New York City to take part in the National Business Plan Competition, and they came home champions, beating out 20 other teams from all over the country. Here’s the thing: If these kids had won a national championship in a sport, they’d be the talk of the town, and rightfully so. But these youngsters did something way more impressive in my book; they came up with a virtual product, built a business plan around it, did exhaustive research and presented it to high-powered people in suits in the McGraw-Hill Building in Manhattan. Their “business” was called Ripple (I can hear you tittering from here, but these are good kids who have no idea about what bums like to drink). They (and their teacher) all won Apple iPad Minis, among other swag.

Think about that for a moment: How many adults could face down that kind of pressure? Imagine your boss sending you to the Big Apple to make a do-or-die presentation like that. Most of us would fold like lawn chairs, but these kids rose to the occasion and brought home first prize.

I spoke with teacher and program coordinator Tamara Combs, who seems like the kind of remarkable educator that could lead these kids to success. When I told her I knew Ms. Cornelius, she said, “Well, that one’s no good,” which should tell you everything you need to know about her leadership abilities.

These future leaders rely on donations to fund the program, so next year, get involved. We have a title to defend.