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Ten students head to Future Business Leaders of America national event this month in Anaheim

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Ten members of the Scappoose High School chapter of FBLA travel to California this month for a national conference and competition. Pictured from left to right are students James Brady, Kyle Johnson, Benji Davidson, Victor Nieves-Garcia, Rhiannon Canary, Emma Phillips, Alex Varga, Beau Groom and Michael Smith. Not pictured is Joseph Hernandez.
Ten students from Scappoose High School will travel to California to attend and compete at the Future Business Leaders of America's National Leadership Conference at the end of June.

The students, who range from freshman to seniors, represent one of the largest qualifying groups in the high school's recent history to attend the national event.

Scappoose FBLA chapter adviser Ryan Poster said only four or five students over the past several years have ranked sufficiently at the state level to qualify for nationals, making this year's group twice as large.

FBLA is a national organization designed to teach students business practices, college and career preparation techniques, and business communication and networking skills. The organization offers middle school, high school and college-level opportunities.

The students will be in Anaheim June 26 to July 3.

The students going to nationals reflect years of experience in the FBLA club across several grade levels, and each have varied interests. Freshman Rhiannon Canary and senior James Brady said they each drew on personal interests and experiences when selecting their competitive FBLA topic. Canary will compete in database design and application, while Brady will compete in computer problem-solving.

During the school year students take part in a regional and state-level competitions where each student selects a specific category to be tested in. Students must pass a written exam before advancing to a hands-on competition, where they make a presentation pitch on a specific topic relating to business, technology and career skills. To qualify for nationals, students had to rank in the top four at state.

A packed field

The nationals-bound students will be joining 15,000 others from across the country. In each competition, they'll face off against hundreds of other students. Competitors who place in the top 10 will qualify to make formal, in-person presentations to several judges on stage for the chance to earn a national ranking and title.

For Brady, who has previously been to nationals twice but has not placed in the top 10, this year's trip represents an opportunity for him to really go for it, he said. He hopes to make it to the stage for the opportunity to compete in the top 10. Senior Beau Groom expressed similar thoughts about his final competition as a high school student.

Bonding opportunity

The competition also represents an opportunity for the FBLA members to meet other school students, as well as bond with one another.

Senior Michael Smith said he's looking forward to getting to know his classmates better on the trip by spending time with them outside of school. Senior Alex Varga said he is also looking forward to having the opportunity to represent Scappoose High School on a national platform.

Students have been fundraising for the trip by asking for donations from businesses owners, volunteering at local nurseries and by collecting "flamingo money." Flamingo money is the result of a clever fundraiser the chapter has been doing for several years. Students place pink lawn flamingos in someone's front yard with a short letter attached that explains what FBLA is and what the students are fundraising for. If the resident makes a donation, he or she nominates another target and the students relocate the flamingo.

Students have raised a lot of money over the years with the flamingos and have received many letters of encouragement, the students explained.

"It's cool to know that people are supportive of us," Senior Victor Nieves-Garcia said.

Varga echoed Nieves-Garcia and thanked the community for being so helpful and involved with Scappoose High School FBLA chapter throughout the school year.

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