These high school students mean business

ESCANABA – High school students from across the U.P. were at Bay College Friday for the Business Professionals of America regional leadership conference.

The BPA is a national career and technical student organization with 54,000 members in 23 state associations. Students in the organization compete against other students using the business skills they learn in the classroom.

“It’s a competitive club and there’s somewhere around 50 different competitions and they range from accounting to spread sheets … graphic design and video – everything in between that has anything to do with business,” said Lee Rometti, regional advisor from West Iron County High School.

The BPA has 10 regions in Michigan, with each region having its own regional conference. Region 5 is composed of the Upper Peninsula.

“There were some really big regions in the lower part of the state and they had to break them up because there were just too many people for regionals,” said Rometti. “They couldn’t find a place to house them all.”

Eleven schools from across the U.P. competed in the regional competition at Bay Friday. While not all schools have classes in every business skill that can be tested at the conference, the competitions are designed to offer something for everyone.

“There’s desktop publishing, there’s marketing and entrepreneurship, and anything that you can think of. Not all schools have all those programs, but they have some of the programs that the kids compete in, so there’s something for every school,” said Rometti.

Students chose the two areas they wanted to compete in during November but were also given the opportunity to test their skills in special “walk-in” contests.

“We have also open competitions that anyone can take, and that will also qualify them for state,” explained Cindy Zain, coordinator for facilities and activities and awards.

The state competition will be held in Grand Rapids March 21 through 24. Winners from that competition will advance to the national leadership conference, which will be held in Orlando in May.

U.P. students have been well represented on the national level in the past, including the Stephenson High School Parliamentary Procedure team, which placed first at at last year’s national conference in Chicago.

“They give us an agenda with three topics. We have 15 minutes to prepare and then we go and present that in front of a panel of judges and it has to be a maximum of 15 minutes,” said senior Duncan Radandt, member of the parliamentary procedure team and BPA competitor for four years.

“It’s definitely worth it, but (requires) a lot of studying,” said teammate senior Kyle Raboin, who also has been competing on the parliamentary procedure team for four years. “Going to nationals pays off for it every year – state and nationals.”