EAST HANOVER, NJ- Have you ever wanted to start a business, learn how to run one, and do it all without having to face the risks associated with it? International Business Practice Firm, also known as IBPF, is a class available at Hanover Park High School, which does exactly that.

This interactive honors course takes an innovative approach to learning by having students run their very own virtual business. It gives them the opportunity to gain real world experience while communicating and interacting with other high school firms from around the state, country, and even the world. In addition, students gain valuable experience by working in various “departments” throughout the year.

This class was introduced to Hanover Park after the Superintendent of Schools, Ms. Carol Grossi, read an educational  magazine which featured the class. Ms. Grossi and Ms. Maria Carrell, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, took an interest in researching this course, so they spoke with the administration at Passaic Valley High School and sat in on one of the classes.

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After seeing how successful and beneficial the class was for these students, they decided to add it to the Hanover Park Regional course offerings. Their vision was that the class would become a capstone for classes in the business department. Students could take several classes in succession such as Introduction to Business, Marketing, and Personal Finance before taking IBPF in their junior or senior year.

Furthermore, there is an option to receive college credit from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

"The district had already established a relationship with FDU’s Middle College Program for various dual credit courses within our Program of Study," Carrell explained. "Upon successful adoption and launching of the IBPF course, we submitted the required teacher credentials and district approved curriculum to allow for this course to be approved into FDU’s Middle College Program.  It is exciting to enable our students to gain college credit while still in high school."

During their fourth year of offering this course, Hanover Park has three sections. This year each class created their own unique and innovative virtual company based on specific products of their choosing. The three businesses that were created were Chronos Corp, a virtual reality company that allows the customers an entertainment experience, Mr Hoagel’s, a deli/bagel shop with many options for creating a tasty sandwich or bagel, and Fit+, a sports wear company.

After writing a business plan, students were then divided into different departments, based on their interests and strengths. For example, the marketing team made flyers to send to potential customers and the human resources team created team building activities to help the firm function at a higher level while the Technology team built a website..

“It's by far the most interesting class I teach," The classes’ teacher or rather, manager, Mr. Jamie Ott commented. "It's the class I really wish I had in high school- to truly experience on the job training, while still in high school. It's said that one can’t get a job without experience but how does one get experience without having a job- this class is the solution to that problem.”

Without IBPF, students would not be able to gain the necessary and very important skills learned through running a business, while discovering their own interests.

“As an aspiring business major, the class gives me the opportunity to face situations that I may encounter in the real world, while culminating what I have learned from business classes in high school," Mike Leong, an intended business major in college said. "My hope is that I am more prepared than any of the other college students majoring in business because of the experience and opportunities that I gained from this class.”

Highlighting the rich benefits of the course, Leong got that experience without any of the risks of starting up and running his own business. That’s what makes education great!