July 31, 2014 in Washington Voices

CV grads take top prize at national FBLA contest

By The Spokesman-Review
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Central Valley grads, Frank Petrilli, left, and Mathew Merrick pose for a photo with their first place trophy for network design from the national conference of Future Business Leaders of America on Tuesday.
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Over the past several years, teams and individuals at Central Valley High School have found success in many different fields, including sports, music and academics, sometimes bringing home hardware for the Bears.

Two recent graduates have brought home a national trophy this month from the Future Business Leaders of America’s National Leadership Conference held June 20 through July 3 in Nashville.

Mathew Merrick and Frank Petrilli won the top prize in network design. The two worked as a team and were asked to create a network for a hypothetical company using a budget. They were given about 10 minutes to design the plan, something Petrilli said in the business world he would be given a week to do.

“It is what we kind of do for fun,” Merrick said.

The two said they first joined FBLA on the recommendation of their technology teacher, Joe Pauley. The two said they enjoyed his technology class and appreciated him as a teacher, so they decided to take him up on it.

The group is a career and technical education student organization led at CV by Duane Barnhart. Barnhart said there is something for everyone in FBLA, depending on what the student’s interests are, whether that is network design, business math, website design, word processing, accounting, public speaking and more. They get to take what they learn in class and use it at a competitive level.

The pair competed and won at the regional and state levels before they traveled to Nashville with Barnhart and four other students. The competition began with a test intended to winnow the teams from 100 to 15.

“We expected to do well,” Petrilli said, but they weren’t sure they would come home with the top prize. After the test, they had to give a presentation on their design.

The two said they didn’t study at all for the competition because creating a network is something they know how to do. Petrilli works as a cloud engineer for Intrinium and will attend the University of Washington this fall. Merrick will attend Washington State University. They both will major in computer science at their rival schools.

“This is the last time we’ll be friends,” Merrick joked.

“They’re both super gifted, hard-working guys,” Barnhart said. The pair are fluent in computer speak, speaking quickly of different aspects of computer science.

“I probably pick up 50 percent (of what they’re saying),” Barnhart said, but he appreciates what they know. “I can learn from them.”

The pair received $1,000 to split for their win and they each took home trophies.

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