Oregon’s future business leaders have best year at national competition
The Hidden Valley High School Future Business Leaders of America chapter placed in four events at the National Leadership Conference in Anaheim, California, with (from left) Sayge Pereria, Averie Richter, Madison O'Brien, Jeydawn Coates, Sylvia Marr, Kali Henderson and Jasmine Williams taking home honors. Advisers Ashlee Griffith and Chris Pendleton (kneeling front) traveled with the teens. (Photo Courtesy of Chris Pendleton)
Oregon’s Future Business Leaders of America chapters had their best showing early this month at the National Leadership Conference competition, according to Oregon FBLA Executive Director Mike Oechsner.
“We took home more top 5 awards than ever before and substantially more total awards than normal,” he said. “We’re excited about our success this year and really, really proud of the work our students have done.”
FBLA is a student-led, school-based organization dedicated to preparing students for careers in business, entrepreneurship, information technology and management.
More than 9,600 competitors from all 50 states and three countries attended the June 29-July 2 event in Anaheim, California, according to the national FBLA. Oregon sent 248 competitors to test their knowledge and skills in about 70 business-related events.
“We had three national champions,” said Bill Graupp, board chairman of the Oregon FBLA Foundation and a North Marion School Board member. “The goal is to be lucky to have one.”
Last year, Oregon had one first place and one second place. This year, Oregon claimed first place in three events:
- Business Plan: Sylvia Marr and Jeydawn Coates of Hidden Valley High School.
- Community Service Project: Makaila Susi and Kathleen Early of Centennial High School.
- Personal Finance: Beau Groom of Scappoose High School.
Oregon students also took second in three events (Tualatin HS in Journalism, Hidden Valley in Local Chapter Annual Business Report and Centennial in Word Processing) and fifth in two events (Hidden Valley in Job Interview and Centennial in Partnership with Business Project). Oregon placed in the top 10 in seven others. The conference presented $170,000 in cash awards for individual, team and chapter events. The conference also offered workshops, exhibits and speakers.
Oechsner credited Oregon’s success to students being more engaged, taking advantage of feedback from industry professionals and actively seeking community support.
“We don’t exist unless the school principals or CT directors allow us to exist,” he said. “School boards play a really critical role in supporting what we’re doing.”
Centennial FBLA adviser and business teacher Adriann Hardin credits part of Centennial’s success to making the program a class rather than an extra-curricular club. Hardin educates students on different areas of business, and students work on business plans, presentations and community projects. She says she works them hard and they respond. This year, 10 of Centennial’s 16-member delegation placed at the national conference.
Centennial High School students Makaila Susi and Kathleen Early appear on the big screen at the Future Business Leaders of America national conference in Anaheim as they are named national champions for Community Service Project.
“I always tell our school board and our principal that if you gave trophies in math you would have a lot more kids doing better in math,” she said. “Kids will tell you they would rather have trophies than an A.”
She also credits school board support.
“Our school board has been amazing and probably our biggest advocate,” she said. “They do a really nice job of recognizing the kids and telling the kids how great they are and what they are doing for their community.”
Anthony Bailey, Oregon FBLA Foundation board treasurer, says the FBLA program has far-reaching impacts.
“I come from a small community. … When we have kids that make it through regionals and then place at state, they really realize they can compete anywhere in the world,” he said. “When they realize that there is nothing that can hold them back but themselves, that experience is valuable.”
Students qualify for nationals through contests at District Skill Conferences and the State Business Leadership Conference.
Some states pay for travel and expenses to national FBLA events, but in Oregon, only state events are paid for by the Oregon Department of Education. Parents and local-chapter fundraising pay for attending national events.
Graupp expects that far fewer Oregonians will be able to go to next year’s national conference in Baltimore. This year’s delegation to Anaheim showed just how strong Oregon’s FBLA program has become.
“If we could take all the kids we wanted for free or at reduced cost, we would be the best in the country,” Graupp said.
- Jake Arnold, OSBA