Despite the tribulations of a virtual event, several Burrell High School students excelled at this year’s state Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) competition.
A team of Jordyn Kowalkowski, Jessica Kowalkowski, and Sydney Horvat took second place in Sports and Entertainment Management. Their performance qualified them to compete at the FBLA National Leadership Conference, which will also take place virtually from June 29 to July 2.
“That was the highest place we’ve ever had,” said Danielle Kariotis, a business teacher at Burrell and FBLA adviser.
The road to second place wasn’t easy. First, the team went through a round of objective testing against the rest of the competitors. Their performance qualified them to move on to the second round, which was a speaking event.
“They were given a topic and went to a Zoom meet,” said Kariotis. “They had a time limit to prepare how they were going to present this challenge to the judges, and then they had seven minutes to present to the three judges in the panel.”
While Kowalkowski, Kowalkowski, and Horvat were the only ones to qualify for Nationals, 37 other students qualified for the state competition. Junior Donovan Callahan (pictured left) also placed fifth in Computer Applications, meaning he’ll be an alternate if other students decline to attend.
Kariotis does blame the virtual nature of the event as a reason why more students didn’t qualify. She says not having the motivation of a trip to Hershey (where states would have been held) or California (where nationals would have been held) may have held some students back from giving it their all.
“Unfortunately, they missed out on a lot this year,” said Kariotis. “When we go to Hershey and nationals, there are a lot of seekers there for the students. A lot of companies and businesses are there for them to meet. The days are filled with getting to see other people and sit in on other people’s presentations. They really missed out on the experience.”
Seniors Carson Ley, Austin Lippert, and Cara Capsambelis also put on quite the performance throughout their four years with FBLA. All four years, they have qualified for states in different events, which is quite an accomplishment.
“This group of seniors knows what it’s about,” said Kariotis. “The time that they put in for what they accomplish is amazing. They are all involved in so much, and I think they could and will be the future business leaders of our country.”