In February, Peabody-Burns High School students spent two days in Wichita competing against Business Professionals of America chapters from other Kansas schools. Of the 19 PBHS students in attendance, seven placed in their chosen competition and four placed high enough to participate in national finals April 30 to May 4 in Indianapolis, Ind.
“The interesting thing about BPA is that when our students select a category in which to compete, they are in the running against students from 1A to 6A schools,” BPA sponsor Patty Savage said. “It isn’t like some other areas where they compete only against kids who attend the same size school as they do.”
The national competition will involve 5,000 students from 27 states competing in 70 events.
Senior Xavier Jabary and freshman Anna Lubbers are state champions, having placed first in their events in Wichita. Jabary took top honors in database and Lubbers was first in fundamental spreadsheet.
Others who placed high enough to compete at nationals are junior Nick Preheim and sophomore Dakota Reynolds, both placing in the top five in database.
At the national competition in Indianapolis, the four students will take a 90-minute test in their qualifying field.
“I have signed each of them up for leadership sessions as well,” Savage said. “The national conference brings in excellent motivational speakers and the leadership portion is worth attending.
“And all the students participate in a community service project planned by the organization committee of the conference. We always take part in the walk for Special Olympics and the money raised goes to help that organization,” she added.
Savage said the students also research the community hosting the national event and pick out tours and places of interest they would like to visit.
Students in the Peabody-Burns BPA chapter have been fundraising all year and the four who will go have ramped up their efforts to meet the total they need to get to Indianapolis.
The balance will be about $3,000 for food, lodging, and any tours or activities they want to take in.
“The students have been trying to get the word out that they are willing to do yard work, spring cleanup, any kind of labor in exchange for a donation,” Savage said. “One year, the students even helped someone move. They went in and boxed everything up and loaded it in a truck in exchange for a donation.”
Savage said the program provides great experiences for the students and gives them practical skills for college and the work force. They learn to deal with deadlines, are accountable for fundraising, learn teamwork, and develop a sense of responsibility.
“Actually very few of our BPA students go into business, but the skills they learn will stay with them,” she said. “One of my favorites is public speaking. Very few students want to get up in front of a group and express an idea or explain something. But as adults, they will all do it at some point.”
Savage said she has had PBHS alums return and tell her how valuable the skills and lessons were they acquired through BPA.
“It is always a plus when they make the effort to come back and tell you they appreciate what they learned way back when they thought they already knew it all,” she said.
For more information about BPA or hiring students to work, contact Savage at Peabody-Burns High School (620) 983-2196 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations may be sent to the high school at 810 Sycamore St.