SHERIDAN — Fourteen students from Big Horn High School’s Future Business Leaders of America chapter competed with 800 peers at the FBLA State Competition in March and thanks to several top finishes, 10 of them are now headed to nationals.
The FBLA organization has been focused on bringing business and education together since the first chapter opened in 1942. Competitions test students in a variety of topics and formats, each designed to enforce the nine goals of the organization and determine the top talent of the nation.
Chapter advisor Gina Kidneigh was new to the Big Horn chapter this year so she was unsure what to expect at the conference but in the end was impressed and excited by the performance of each of her students.
“Since we come from a small school, it can be very difficult to compete at the state level,” Kidneigh said. “For example, one of the tests is on business law and our school doesn’t have a course dedicated to that topic but others do.”
The students proved champions of adversity as they took a variety of top spots including first place in the team competition of Website Design.
Eddie Atter and Miles Novak began working on their entry to the website competition last November and Kidneigh said they logged countless hours developing a fully functional website for a ficticious company, Willow Lake Bed and Breakfast.
The team registered the URL, launched the site and then submitted it for prejudging. Next, they presented the website to a panel of judges at the state conference, pretending to be professional Web designers selling their services to the owners of the company.
“Of course you get a little nervous but we were very proud of what we had done on the website,” Atter said. “I’m really excited for nationals. The judges gave us some notes on what to tweak but it will mostly be the same presentation.”
This type of competition, referred to as a performance event, requires a large amount of action to be taken in preparation.
Another style of competition held is objective testing, which consists of knowledge-based tests containing 100 multiple-choice questions that must be answered in 60 minutes.
The final competition structure combines the two prior into a more impromptu format.
Teams of students first complete an objective test and the top 10 placing teams of each test then go on to compete in a performance component in which the team is sequestered for 20 minutes and given a case scenario to explore. Armed with only one note card per team member and a pencil, the team has 20 minutes to brainstorm a solution to an assigned case scenario and prepare to present their solution to judges.
All three teams from Big Horn to compete in this type of event made the top 10 in the beginning portion and went on to the performance half.
Jennifer Custis, Treylee Parker and Morgan Nance took first in the Sports and Entertainment Management category. “It was an amazing experience that forces you to try your hardest,” Custis said. “You must get used to being interviewed and speaking with new people. I think every high schooler should do it.”
Now the students are headed to nationals to represent the state of Wyoming, a journey that will cost $1,460 per student.
According to Kidneigh, the district is helping offset the cost but their budget to do so is shared with other student organizations, like the FCCLA competitors also heading to nationals, and therefore very limited.
She anticipates the group will need to raise $10,000 of the more than $14,000 total needed for the students, not including her own travel costs, and they need the money by May.
Kidneigh, a state advisor and former Glen Rock Chapter advisor, will meet with parent groups and begin fundraising efforts for the national’s trip immediately.
“It’s near and dear to my heart,” she said. “I love working with the students and working with the FBLA organization here and on a state level.”