Tucked quietly away in a second floor classroom at Caesar Rodney High School, a corporation is at work.

Tucked quietly away in a second floor classroom at Caesar Rodney High School, a corporation is at work.

Icustom Inc., run by the Caesar Rodney Junior Achievement team, sells a variety of custom items, but specializes in providing customized T-shirts and student planners to the Caesar Rodney School District.

The club runs like an actual business, said Isha Iqubal, a junior achievement member.

“First, we either go to the customer or the customer comes to us, and we ask them if they needed any customized items,” she said. “Then we take care of the design process. When we get the design ready we take it back to the client and they tell us if it’s okay or not. Then we proceed with the order. When we get the order, we do inventory on it to make sure it’s up to good quality and then we deliver it to the client, who then pays us.”

The money that the students earn is doled out in the form of salaries and bonuses for club members. Each club member gets a certain amount of money for each meeting they attend and bonuses beyond that. A portion of icustom Inc.’s profits also is put towards funding charitable efforts.

The team’s business acumen qualified them for JA’s national-level competition in two categories, and five of its members are currently competing in Washington D.C. through at the Junior Achievement’s National Student Leadership Summit, which runs until June 19.

The team is competing in the Company of the Year contest and the National Business Plan Challenge.

To qualify for nationals, the Caesar Rodney team had to submit their annual report and a commercial for their business to Junior Achievement, which then selected the top 10 teams in the country.

Once the Caesar Rodney team arrived at nationals, they were broken into two teams.

The team competing for the title of Company of the Year will consist of Iqbal, Mikayla Humiston and Casey Thorne. They are tasked with setting up a booth for their company at a trade fair, which will be judged. They also must make a presentation outlining how their company works and participate in an interview.

“We placed last year,” Iqbal said. “We definitely feel more confident this year in ourselves and in our company. Our model has definitely improved.”

The second set of students representing Caesar Rodney at nationals includes Mckinely and Bryna Alden. To qualify for nationals, the sisters wrote up a business plan that outlines their target market, how they would go about getting startup funds and how they were more successful than the previous year. They also designed an infographic that explains how icustom Inc. works.

Caesar Rodney High School’s Junior Achievement team went rouge this year by breaking away from the traditional JA, structure, which has students in the club create a business and operate under the direction of a president, as well as a vice president of finance, marketing and human resources. The Caesar Rodney team broke the mold, with approval from JA headquarters, and revamped their previously successful business to establish two co-presidents and a vice president of finance, while students in the club work in project groups, meaning that once they start a project, they see it through to finish, learning every aspect of the project along the way, Humiston said.

Caesar Rodney’s icustom Inc. also isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The company recently landed a three-year contract to create all of the planners for the district’s intermediate schools.

Asking students to operate a real business allows students to utilize the skills they are learning, said John Wickert, the advisor for the Caesar Rodney Junior Achievement team.

“So much of what they hear is some teacher droning on about ‘this is how the world works,’ but there’s not always that connection,” he said. “For these kids, they’re creating invoices, they’re negotiating contracts, they’re doing professional presentations. All those things they’ll use in the real world, they’re practicing in a context that has some context of a safety net behind it.”