Ocoee High places 4th in national 3DE competition

Three students were tasked with coming up with a solution for changing the buyer demographic at Arby’s restaurants.

Blaine Waters, Evan Vegel and Lucas Vegel represented Ocoee High School in the 3DE national competition.
Blaine Waters, Evan Vegel and Lucas Vegel represented Ocoee High School in the 3DE national competition.
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Ocoee High School is celebrating its trip to a national competition through a Junior Achievement program. Called 3DE, the education model provides issues for local and national employers that students must resolve. Blaine Waters, Evan Vegel and Lucas Vegel were on the Ocoee team.

OHS was among the eight teams selected from 51 spread across the country and made it to the top four. The other three teams were North Side High School, in Fort Wayne, Indiana; Northview High School, Johns Creek, Georgia; and Olathe East High School, Olathe, Kansas.

The competition, which took place virtually Thursday, April 11, and teams were tasked with coming up with a way to get younger folks into the fast-food restaurant. The demographic of Arby’s customers is a 42-year-old white male, said Thomas O’Brien, Ocoee assistant principal who oversees the 168 students in the school’s 3DE program. Mayra Blackburn is the school’s program director.

The OHS team didn’t win the top trophy, but it presented a successful campaign idea to judges. The team’s idea was for Arby’s to partner with the Fortnite game platform — which is popular with teens and young adults — and offer a Fortnite meal. Arby’s could offer a blue Powerade drink similar to the one in the game, the same cut of French fries and a burger designed to look like the Fortnite meal.

O’Brien said 400 million gamers in the target age range play Fortnite.

“They pitched it as, even if you get only half of the players to show up, you’re still getting 200 million people (in the restaurant),” he said.

Teams had to identify a solution posed by the Arby’s Foundation. The Ocoee High School trio created a campaign centered around the Fortnite game.

The students were nervous going into the top 4 competition, O’Brien said, but they gave a great presentation. All three were part of the research and presentation process.

This year’s judges said this was one of the best competitions they had seen and first and second place was separated by just one point. This is Ocoee High’s second year making it to the top 4.

Last year was the first time 3DE was offered at Ocoee, and freshmen were eligible to participate. This year, freshmen and sophomores could take part in the initiative.

The 3DE program is a yearlong commitment, and students work on six case challenges — with four local companies and two national — throughout the year. Participating companies include Home Depot, Delta, Arby’s and AdventHealth.

O’Brien said in typical high school classes, students learn the “what.” In 3DE classes, they learn the “why.” The program can be run through various classes; at Ocoee, it goes through the English class. The challenges vary each year.

The 3DE structure launches as a school-within-a-school concept. The organization partners with local school districts to challenge high school students in relevant “case challenges” that revolve around high-growth industries and businesses. The case challenges are integrated within English, science, math and history courses, which means students are learning the context of these academic concepts through the lens of a business scenario. Then, as seniors, the students are provided opportunities including semester-long internships, where they work with partner organizations to gain experience in the workplace.

The 3DE model has been around for five years and has partnered with Junior Achievement in the high school program.

The final competition was held virtually, and the four teams from Florida, Kansas, Indiana and Georgia made their presentations to judges from the Arby’s Foundation.



Amy Quesinberry

Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.

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