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Middle schoolers to represent Kansas at national competition

Staff writer

Thanks to a handful of students and a passionate adviser, Peabody-Burns Middle School is home to the state’s first and only Business Professionals of America middle school chapter. The chapter is not only the first in Kansas, but also qualified for the national competition which takes place in Dallas, Texas in May.

The chapter consists of students Ciara Frye, Matthew Robinson, and Lukas Spencer, and adviser Mary Miller.

“They weren’t sure what it would entail,” said Miller. “They didn’t do a whole lot until they took a look at the list of events.”

The trio participated in a pilot event for the competition this year, Digital Game Design Team. The event consists of utilizing software to create their own digital game following directions they were given.

Miller said one of the members joined only because he wanted to help work at concession stands, but had a change of heart after seeing the digital game design event on the list. The event can be competed in as an individual or a team.
“He approached the other two students about doing it as a team,” she said. “After they agreed to do it they just went to town.”

During the design process, the students hit a few roadblocks, but Miller said they worked together to problem solve.
“Their character would disappear and they had to find it,” she said. “There were a few times they got really frustrated, but they kept going.”

The team presented their game at a regional competition where they experienced a few problems. Peabody-Burns teacher Brian Simmonds served as the judge and gave the students advice for improving the game and their presentation to judges.

“They worked hard over the next week and a half to fix the problems and follow Mr. Simmonds’ advice so they would be ready for the state leadership conference,” Miller said. “When we traveled to Wichita for the conference, these three kids really stepped up their game.”

Miller said they went into their event room with confidence as they gave their presentation and met state director Amber McNew, who made a point to introduce herself and give the students prizes for being the first middle school chapter in Kansas.

Middle school members also took open event tests, another avenue to qualify for the national competition.

The students reaped the fruits of their labor after hearing they not only qualified in digital game design, but also in their open tests.

Miller said that while the school district will pay for transportation to and from Dallas, conference fees and lodging fall on the organization to raise.

Members will do light yard work, dusting, stocking shelves, sweeping floors, or other odd jobs in exchange for a donation.

Miller said members appreciate local support of their efforts and will do their best to make the community proud when they head to Dallas in May.

“One of them has never been outside of Kansas, so it’s exciting,” she said. “Anything I’ve ever asked them to do, they just step up and do it. I’m so proud of them.”

Last modified March 14, 2018

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