Joyce Marie Taylor
Thirty-five student members of the Lafayette High School Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) will be traveling to Orlando on April 25 for a four-day adventure at the FBLA State Conference.
Teacher Lisa Hancock brought six of her FBLA students, all in professional dress, to the Rotary Club of Mayo to tell them what it is they do and how being an FBLA member has shaped them.
“Today, we should take a moment to thank you all, Rotary, for the example that you set for these guys, our future business leaders,” said Hancock. “So many of the opportunities that these students have are made possible through your support.”
Each year community members contribute to the club, such as Leenette McMillan Fredriksson, John Hewett, and Angie and Delores Ceraso, all Rotarians.
“You’re some of our strongest supporters,” said Hancock. “We appreciate you so much.”
FBLA members, Hancock said, conduct several community service projects each year.
“This year we teamed up with First Federal and we held a walkathon to benefit our national service project with the FBLA,” Hancock said. “This year we raised $1,250 for the March of Dimes, which was very exciting.”
They also sponsored Thanksgiving and Christmas drives to help the less fortunate in the community. Hancock said she wants her students to value honesty and integrity.
“I want them to know that every decision is not easy,” she said. “It’s not always black and white. There’s a lot of grey in life.”
Junior Ashlin Morgan has been a member of FBLA for four years and serves as the senior’s chapter reporter. She explained that the students’ presentations are sent in to the state office of FBLA for judging prior to the conference. The top five in each category will give their presentations at the conference in Orlando.
“As a reporter I take photos of events and I help write anything that might be published in the community, like press releases, thank you letters and invitations,” said Morgan.
For this year’s state competition, Morgan will be presenting with her classmate Cody Walker, who has been an FBLA member for five years. Their presentation deals with proper business luncheon etiquette. Morgan said the things she has learned will help her in the future to be able to deal with situations like business luncheons, interviews or simply meeting someone’s family and feel confident that she won’t make a fool of herself.
“This year I’m the chapter’s historian, which is pretty much the same thing Ashlin does, but the pictures I record,” said Walker.
Walker, also a junior, said his time with FBLA has helped him to conquer his fear of public speaking.
“In middle school, before I knew about FBLA, I couldn’t be in front of you,” Walker said. “I would get so nervous that my eyes would water up when I’d try to meet new people.”
Junior Dustin Hart serves as the FBLA’s chaplain. His duties are to keep things calm, ordered and done in a godly fashion at FBLA meetings, he said.
“My competition this year is hospitality management,” said Hart.
Hart referenced the hotel they have used for the last six years when they go to the state competition, and that they keep returning because they receive excellent service.
Senior Savannah Pruitt said this is her first year as a member of FBLA. She will be presenting digital design and promotion at the competition with Stephanie Ramirez and Laura Miles. The group was given a fictional business and had to create a corporate identity for it, which included making a billboard design, promotional T-shirts, a newspaper ad, a web banner, letterhead and envelope templates, and a gift certificate.
Junior Luis Arreguin is the 2012-13 vice president of the FBLA chapter at LHS.
“Pretty much, what I do is tell the other members what to do,” he said with a sly grin. “They don’t listen to me, but I try my best,” he added.
Arreguin said every year they strive to be able to compete at the state level.
“Just like any other competition, we do our best to win,” he said.
Last year, Arreguin said, there were a total of 4,000 students statewide competing at the conference. The LHS chapter placed in the top five in five categories, he added. This year’s group has been studying and preparing for the state competition since November.
“Our ultimate goal is to prepare our members for our lives outside of school,” said Arreguin. “At state, we’re going to have the freedom to explore beyond the city limits of Mayo, such as dairies and poultry, and meet some of the other students.”
At the same time, these students will be expanding their education outside of the classroom through a businesslike structure that spans four days.
Arreguin said, “We appreciate all the support you have given us and we’ll make you proud.”
Last up to speak was Nicholas Singletary, president of the FBLA chapter at LHS.
“The four years I’ve been an FBLA member have been memorable,” said Singletary. “I’ve learned skills that I can use in the future and I have bonded with aspiring business leaders in my school.”
State Conference Week, Singletary said, is the week that every FBLA member looks forward to.
“The opportunity itself at state conference is exciting,” Singletary said. “Placing in an event can show others that you’re serious about the future. It doesn’t look bad on your resume, either.”
Hancock said if any local businesses need the sort of help that these FBLA students are learning they can contact her.
“It’s a great experience for them,” said Hancock. “We’d be more than happy to help. Give us a call. That’s what we do.”
All six of the students are industry certified in PhotoShop, which goes on their diplomas. Hancock said it makes them employable straight out of high school. It can also be a college credit, she added. A few of the students also are already certified in Dreamweaver and Flash, as well. The demand for Flash certified potential employees went up 5,000 percent between 2007 and 2009, Hancock said.
“They’re great kids,” said Hancock. “I have to brag on them.”
Pruitt said, “It helps when you have a good leader.”