Several local high school students have returned from the FBLA National Leadership Conference in Baltimore, where they competed among 12,000 students in nearly 70 categories.
Marley Pratt of Freeman High School took second place in the job interview category. “It was the hardest interview that I’ve done in the last four years,” Pratt said. “I was definitely nervous, but I thought I did my best.”
The senior got involved in FBLA because her older sister was involved. This was not her first trip to nationals. Her sophomore year she competed in client services and her junior year she competed in community service. She didn’t make the top 10 either year.
“It’s still such a great experience,” she said. “It was just cool to compete.”
She’s pleased that she was able to place in the top 10 in her last year of competition. “It was more than I could ever ask for,” she said.
She said she likes FLBA because she learns and grows as a person. “It’s very fun to meet all the kids at the conferences and competitions we go to,” she said.
Freeman High School has sent students to nationals every year since 2005, said FBLA coach Scott Moore. This year only Pratt advanced through the regional and state competitions to advance to nationals; other years there have been close to a dozen students.
There are 20 schools in the Northeast Region that includes Freeman High School and eight regions in Washington. “It’s harder to get out of our own region than it is to do well at nationals,” Moore said. “We have such a tough region.”
Though about 12,000 students made it to the national competition, it’s really difficult to get there, Moore said.
“Only 2 percent of FBLA (students) make it to the national level,” he said. “Just going to nationals is a great accomplishment for any student.”
A team of three East Valley High School students also advanced to nationals, where they placed fourth in network design. Junior Josh Strebeck and sophomores Collin Zurfluh and Carter Hosking had to come up with a solution to a network problem they were given, said their coach Bret Kiefer.
Working as a team in an FBLA competition is a great way for students to get experience with thinking on their feet and public speaking, Kiefer said. “They get a chance to work with other kids in a group setting,” he said. “They get a chance to lead.”
There was also a chance for sightseeing during the competition. The two teams traveled together and visited museums, national monuments and attended a Baltimore Orioles game. “It’s all about trying to give the kids an experience,” Kiefer said.
Other local schools were also at nationals. Megumi Call of Cheney High School placed second in the electronic career portfolio competition.
It’s not unusual for the Spokane area to be well represented at nationals, Moore said. “Most of us have the good fortune to have good kids,” he said. “It’s a great organization. We’re just very proud of what the kids have done.”
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