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Hailing from 20 different junior high and high schools from around Northern Utah, the Future Business Leaders of America held their Northern Region competition at Weber State University on Thursday morning. The competition lasted until the afternoon. Students ranging from freshmen to seniors participated in more than 44 business-related events. These events included Chi-testing competitions as well as public speaking on teams.
Wildcats in Phi Beta Lambda volunteered and sponsored the event. PBL is the collegiate version of FBLA, and they are directly tied together. Harrison Spendlove, state PBL president, said the event is their annual fundraiser and took up to three months of planning.
“We plan this every year. This allows us to send students to our national convention, which is going to be in Anaheim this year. We tend to do pretty well,” Spendlove said. “It takes a lot of work, a lot of manpower.”
Spendlove said there were at least 70 volunteer judges for the 43 competitions. According to Spendlove, FBLA-PBL is the largest national student organization, and last year it went international with chapters in China.
Spendlove said FBLA-PBL is in a partnership with March of Dimes, a national nonprofit organization that works to improve the health of mothers and premature babies.
“What we’re doing is actually establishing what’s called a ‘Teddy Bear Den’ here at Weber State,” Spendlove said, “through us being an affiliate with Weber State, to provide the basic needs for infants for mothers that are following certain guidelines for prenatal care to prevent premature births.”
A dance featuring the live band Easy Money took place from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., followed by the awards ceremony. Kristi Yamada, an adviser for the Syracuse High School FBLA, said the competition was a great opportunity for students to see the university and gain skills to use in the future. Yamada has been with the Syracuse FBLA for three years.
“This is good practice for them here,” Yamada said. “. . . This is really nice of Weber to do, because it gives them the experience of presenting. It gives them good feedback, which is really nice.”
Yamada described a few of the competitions as “fun for the students,” and said most of the students felt comfortable in public speaking events when they were placed in teams. The students from Syracuse High School were involved in most of the events, but one student chose to do digital design.
“These kids make my day. We love it,” Yamada said. “Part of competitions is getting ready. We kind of make it fun — and always have food. They keep us young.”
This was the first time many junior-high students were able to attend the regional competition. Joshua Wabel, a student from Syracuse Junior High, was one of these students. He said this was his first time competing and that he felt good about his mock job interview and speech.
“I want to go into an attorney-at-law,” said Wabel about his plans for after graduation. “My future plan, FBLA helped me (with), because a lot of the lawyer work is public speaking and knowing your topic and studying it and then being able to present on it.”
Not every student who attended the Northern Regional competition actually contended for a prize. Samantha Christensen, president of Bonneville High School’s FBLA, said that this year, her main focus was to get her team hyped up for the regional competition. She didn’t compete herself.
“Well, we pretty much get our students hyped up and excited to compete in this. We try get together and make sure all of out stuff is perfect and good and ready,” Christensen said. She served as a mentor, giving her students advice on her past experience.
This is Christensen’s first year at Bonneville High School after leaving Ogden High School, where she was a member of FBLA. She plans on competing at the state level, but said Bonneville High School has a history of placing well at FBLA competitions.
Christensen plans on becoming a Wildcat in the fall with a major in criminal justice.