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Midvale Journal

Hillcrest High sends 26 students to compete at FBLA Nationals

Jun 02, 2017 10:59AM ● By Julie Slama

Hillcrest High FBLA students started the year being awarded about 35 top-place finishes at the fall Aggie Invitational competition in Logan and 26 of those students later earned invitations to compete at nationals in June. (Hillcrest High School)

By Julie Slama   |  [email protected]
Hillcrest High Senior Emily Johnston knew they blew their chance.
“We were done with our presentation and there was one question we couldn’t answer,” she said about the state Future Business Leaders of America management information systems contest, which she teamed up with junior Pooja Annigeri and senior Kayla Kelsey. “I told them here it was International Women’s Day and we were letting all these boys beat us.”
Much to Emily’s surprise, the team was called up on stage for the announcement of the top 10 places. Once again, she muttered they probably finished 10th, even though her teammates thought otherwise.
When it was announced they had won, she was shocked.
“We were ridiculously screaming. I didn’t expect it at all,” she said.
This team was one of 23 other top Hillcrest finishers who will compete at the national FBLA competition in late June in Anaheim, California. Three additional students qualified for nationals, but are unable to attend, said teacher Jennifer Walters, who joined Manny Kepas in advising the team this year. 
Emily, who said she focused more on her other event, said preparing for this one was more last-minute by researching different types of management information systems and using the abilities they already had, such as critical thinking, organizational skills and business experience.
Luck also prevailed as the role-play focused on food truck management and one of the team members had experience working on a food truck.
“We were able to put our presentation together pretty quickly,” she said. “This was a lot more fun than my written test.”
However, as they prepare for nationals, she anticipates it will become more intense. Plus, Pooja won’t be able to attend so senior Yunha Hwang will step into the team.
“We’ll practice more role plays and look up more about security issues, maybe even shadow people in the field,” Emily said. 
The FBLA season began in early fall, when 60 students attended the Aggie Invitational, earning about 35 first- and second-place finishers.
In the metro regionals for the Greater Salt Lake area, the team received first place high school chapter award. Walter said about 40 students finished in the top three.
At state, the team of 50 students placed in every event, Walters said. They also received an outstanding chapter award along with the gold seal chapter award of merit.
In addition, Hillcrest students had leadership opportunities, including junior Jaehyun Han as voted state president.  This year, senior Soyoung Jeon and senior Abby Olson served as state secretary and state webmaster respectively. 
“I was told this was a great group of kids who perform well and I’m still in an element of shock and surprise,” Walters said. “They’ve shown real dedication and hard work.”
As students prepare for nationals, two sophomores, Aisha Khan and Sydney Larsen, are reviewing judges’ notes and asking upperclassmen for advice. 
The two are competing in a social media campaign where after they made a trailer starring Sydney’s dog, Bentley, they learned how to advertise it on social media. They also had to determine a target audience as well as an advertising plan within a set budget.
 “We’re looking over the score sheet and getting feedback to see how we can improve,” Aisha said. “We felt confident with our performance and we worked really hard.  Our trailer was strong and we felt that dogs appeal to all audiences.”
Sydney said that through FBLA she has sharpened her presentation skills.
“I love the FBLA environment and the people,” she said. “I’m pretty proud of what we’ve done and can’t wait until we compete at nationals.”
Other Hillcrest students who will be nationals include Bryson Armstrong, Rishab Balakrishnan, Rylee Brown, Samuel Campbell, Aidan Copinga, Juile Fu, Jaehyun Han, Brady Hartog, Sarah Hu, Tess Jorgensen, Sean Kuo, Gaurav Mishra, Annabella Oliver, Sraavya Pinjala, Hayden Prince, Saraj Ramkumar, Yunye Sun, Vivek Vankayalapati, Eric Yu, Stephen Yu and Christine Yun.