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Teen business titans bring home national championship to Greensburg Salem

Jacob Tierney
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Three teens brought home a National Championship for Greensburg Salem School District in the Junior Achievement Titan Challenge, a computer simulation that sees students building, marketing and selling a fictional product. From left is sophomore Chris Schrecengost and juniors Ryan Downs and Justin Pellis.

Three teenagers' business acumen brought home a national championship for Greensburg Salem School District in the Junior Achievement Titan Challenge, a computer simulation that sees students building, marketing and selling a fictional product.

Juniors Ryan Downs and Justin Pellis and sophomore Chris Schrecengost topped 63 other teams from across the continent, including Canada and Mexico, to claim victory.

Students competing in the Titan Challenge were tasked with selling a “Holo-Generator.” They set the price, determined how much to budget for marketing and production, and responded to changes in the market. In each round they competed with seven other teams who were part of the same simulation.

The tournament played out over two weeks. Each day they were tasked with new decisions, and the computer simulation determined the result of their choices.

Downs said he first played the Titan Challenge simulation in one of his classes as a sophomore.

“We didn't have any idea what we were doing at first, but we just played, and we got better,” he said.

Teams from Greensburg Salem dominated state and regional Titan Challenge tournaments over the last school year. Two Greensburg Salem teams competed in nationals, with a team composed of Vincent DeFazio, Michael Schropp and Zachary Stabile also in the running.

“It's like athletics in the classroom, it's really something to watch,” said Greensburg Salem business technology instructor JoAnne Finoli.

Although they were facing teams from all over the continent, the students did not need to travel to compete. The virtual nature of the competition meant they could play from school.

Downs said his team planned to sell high and produce plenty of product, adjusting their strategy as they went. They had little need to undercut their competition, he said.

“When you drop your prices really low you flood the market, and instead of everyone gaining, everyone tends to lose,” he said.

The challenge was created by Junior Achievement, a youth organization that fosters economic and entrepreneurial education.

“We are so proud of them, locally, for representing Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania on a national scale.” Amanda Laichak, director of education for Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania.

Finoli said the program taught her students the value of teamwork, along with real-world business skills.

“Education is normally just individual, but with this competition they truly have to find people that they can collaborate with,” she said.

This was the second year of the National Titan Virtual Competition, organized by Junior Achievement of East Central Ohio.

Jacob Tierney is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6646 or [email protected].

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