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Illinois team delivers winning TV pitch for AICPA student competition

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March 19, 2013

The American Institute of CPAs crowned a team from Batavia High School in Batavia, Ill., winners of the AICPA’s Project Innovation: The Start Here, Go Places Competition of Creative Excellence for their CPA TV show pitch.

The contest, sponsored by the AICPA’s Start Here, Go Places website, challenged high school student teams to develop a hit TV show about the accounting profession. The winning team, Accounting Pros,  received $4,000 in scholarships and $3,000 in grant money for their school.

Student teams of two or four high school students from around the country entered the competition, taking on the roles of TV writers and producers to conceptualize a show, then develop a proposal, production budget and short video preview to pitch to the “network”—a panel of AICPA-appointed judges.

That panel chose the top entries to participate in the finals, where video teasers were posted to the Start Here, Go Places website and up for public vote.

“Our goal with this year’s competition was to challenge high school students to learn more about the accounting profession in a way that encouraged them to be as creative as possible through a medium they were quite familiar with,” said Heather L. Bunning, AICPA senior manager of high school and community college initiatives, in a statement. “What better way to challenge the number-crunching stereotype of an accountant than to develop a TV show based on the accounting profession? Through the course of the competition, students learned to communicate effectively, think creatively and work within a team – all of which are keys to getting ahead in the profession.”

Following the public vote, finalists presented their ideas via Google+ hangout to final round judge John Digrado, executive director of finance at Sony Pictures Television Networks International, who judged the videos, budgets and presentation.

“The competition was a great way to get students thinking about accounting in a way they maybe hadn’t before,” stated Digrado.  It was great to see the students take on the challenge of developing an idea, building a budget and enlisting their friends and teachers in making that idea a reality. Each team approached the competition in a unique way, but I think all of them came away with an appreciation of both the process of developing a TV show and the accounting profession as a whole.”

The winning Accounting Pros team was David Madrigal, Stanley Walden and Zach Thilges, with Jeffrey Miller serving as faculty advisor.

The show concept centers on young SEC agent and licensed CPA Dominic Clark who, after exposing fraudulent activity in his job at a toy company, joins the FBI to go undercover as a forensic accountant while secretly investigating the agency’s financial history. The show’s pilot is available here.

“I was really impressed with their idea,” Digrado stated. “I could genuinely see how it puts accountants in a heroic light and generates interest in the profession with the broadest audience possible. Their pilot did a great job setting up the central plot points of the show, and their budget was well considered. The team did an excellent job explaining their idea in their final presentation and really selling their show.”

The second-place team, hailing from Pine Ridge High School in Deltona, Fla., won $3,000 in scholarships and $2,000 for their school while students of Foxborough High School in Foxborough High School claimed third prize and $2,000 in scholarships, plus $1,000 for the school.

More information about the finalists and their submissions is available on the Start Here, Go Places website.

 

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