The future of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) is bright after success at recent business competitions. Marian’s FBLA chapter won third place at the High School Business Competition hosted by the University of Nebraska at Omaha on Feb. 3.
Junior Morgan Hodges won first place in the Entrepreneurship category, and junior Lauren Klingemann won third place in Business Calculations. Junior Nina Oleynikov won fourth place in Business Calculations, junior Mali Seran won fifth place in Marketing and fifth place in Banking and freshman Emma McClellan won fourth place in Intro to Business.
The members who attended the UNO competition created fond memories, including Hodges’ memorable moment of “Mr. Panning’s shocked face when we got third!”
“Mr. Panning was so excited… He was one proud FBLA moderator!” Klingemann said.
Mr. Craig Panning, business teacher and FBLA moderator since 2013, has an explanation for his surprised reaction. “The way UNO did it, they announced the top three in each category, and we only heard our names twice. It was a complete shock for me. I knew they could do it, but I was shocked because I thought the announcements meant they were already out of it. It was a memorable moment.”
“Us placing third, us being able to compete with the other schools is a really big accomplishment for our members. Now our girls know they can compete with them,” Panning said.
The competitions consist of three rounds of tests administered about business topics. Each test was 50 questions long and multiple choice. At the competitions, the participants dress in business attire.
Marian has had an FBLA chapter since May of 1970. This year, the team feels especially optimistic. “A big piece of it is preparation. Before the UNL competition, they took practice tests on their iPads. We have a lot of good seniors with leadership who set a good example,” Panning said.
A major source of success was the involvement of the FBLA officers. “I couldn’t be more proud of my officers. They did a lot of recruiting and got the right members in the right places,” Panning said.
The officers include President senior Megan Anderson, Vice President of Membership junior Nina Oleynikov, Vice President of Communication senior Meredith Zielie, Secretary senior Danelle McMorrow, Treasurer junior Lauren O’Leary and Reporter senior Lauren Kirke.
Although many upperclassmen have stepped up to the plate, underclassmen have gained a lot through their FBLA experience. “I have learned that there is a lot more to building a business than I thought. I’ve learned so much about business, things like what the definition of entrepreneurship is and that you don’t have to be a math whiz to calculate interest or do other simple business math,” freshman Emma Johnson said.
Although not all FBLA members plan to go into business careers, they find value in their participation. “The job interviews help me out a lot. [Judges] give you a lot of feedback. It was nice to get that help from professionals,” senior Meredith Zielie said. “It looks great on a resume, and it’s a really helpful club you can take a lot away from for the future.”
“Although I do not want to work in business, having some knowledge of business is important in any career you go into,” Klingemann said.
“I probably won’t go into business, but the skills we learn are applicable to many other things. I would love to someday travel the world as a missionary doctor,” Hodges said.
FBLA is active throughout the school year. The club has monthly chapter meetings, biweekly sub-chapter meetings and competitions between schools throughout the year.
FBLA also runs the Blue Brew, where students can purchase coffee on Wednesday mornings from 7:50 to 8:25.
All of the knowledge they gain and projects they work on throughout the year are valuable on their own, but they are also a large part of their preparation for State, which is a three day conference from Thursday, April 6 to Saturday, April 8, held at the Hotel RL (previously known as the Ramada) on 72nd and Grover.
FBLA members are chosen to go to State based on a point system. Members gain points by taking part in the various FBLA activities, so the most active participants go on to compete at State.
“[State] is kind of like our Field Day. It’s their big accomplishment at the end of the year. They all earn their ribbons.” It’s all activities we’ve done throughout the school year. It’s all a culmination,” Panning said.
Any students interested in joining FBLA are encouraged to sign up at the beginning of the school year and contact Panning (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions.