Suffolk students going to FBLA nationals

Published 10:16 pm Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Nansemond River High School students won big at a statewide conference for Future Business Leaders of America, and six will go on to compete at the national level.

The school had 15 students compete at the Virginia FBLA State Leadership Conference held in Reston on April 13-14. Another student joined them to participate in the Foundation Leadership Institute development program, plus two freshmen that attended but did not compete.

Senior Shanice Mills, sophomore Mason Goss and juniors Jadyn Williams and Oliver Rice each placed highly enough in their respective competitions to be selected for the National Leadership Conference. Juniors Dylan Gnagey and Kaelin Embry qualified with their success in the FBLA Virtual Business Management Challenge, which tested their skills at managing manufacturing businesses.

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“It’s like a game simulation, and whoever ended up with the highest net profit got invited to the national competition,” Nansemond River business teacher and FBLA advisor Jason Bartholomew said.

The Future Business Leaders of America—Phi Beta Lambda is the largest career student business organization in the world. The high school division of FBLA has more than 209,000 members, and the chapter at NRHS is one of more than 5,200 in seven-plus countries.

Students tested their business acumen at the State Leadership Conference by competing against some of Virginia’s brightest minds, with some events having upwards of 30 students. They brought their A-game to interviews, presentations, public speaking and other categories.

“They’re competing against the best of the best,” Bartholomew said.

Goss, 15, was one of 15 students who faced 100 multiple-choice questions for “Introduction to Parliamentary Procedure,” based on the FBLA bylaws and “Robert’s Rules of Order,” the most widely used manual on parliamentary procedure in the United States.

The sophomore said he was surprised by how the manual covered nearly every conceivable detail.

“I was surprised at how structured it was,” he said. “There was an explanation for everything you could think of. Every possible scenario was taken care of.”

Rice, 16, dealt with some hard questions as well in his “Personal Finance” multiple-choice test.

“There were a couple curveballs, like liens,” he said. “I had to look that up after the test.”

Other events required students to spend months preparing projects and presentations. Williams, 16, chose the “Coding and Programming” event, and he prepared a library database program to the scrutiny of five judges.

He said he felt nervous at first but gained confidence with each passing minute.

“It feels pretty great,” he said. “I didn’t think I would get this far.”

The six high schoolers will hit the books, scan flash cards, practice harder questions and take advantage of every online and print resource to prepare for nationals this summer.

“What they did before isn’t good enough anymore,” Bartholomew said. “What got them through states isn’t going to get them through nationals.”

Mills, 18, understands this. She thinks about the nationals as she reviews “Accounting for Dummies,” when she’s in accounting class at NRHS and when she’s looking through previous questions on FBLA’s website.

But she’s not just doing this for another trophy. She’s trying to be better for the future.

“My family always tell me that it’s not about the trophy; it’s about the experience,” she said. “I know that I’m going to have a more thorough understanding of accounting than the average student. A trophy would be nice, but it’s not what I’m for.”

The National Leadership Conference will be held in Baltimore from June 28 to July 1. The chapter is responsible for part of the travel expenses for competitions and welcomes donations to offset the costs. Email jasonbartholomew@spsk12.net for more information on how to make a donation.