Meet the students representing Perham at next month's National Leadership Conference
PHS students Angelina Nicholas, Isaac Paurus, Jaxon Bain and Quincy Anderson qualified to compete at the national Business Professionals of America competition. Three will compete in April.
PERHAM — Though this new academic extracurricular has only been available at Perham High School for one year, four students qualified to compete at the National Leadership Conference for Business Professionals of America (BPA). Of those four students — Quincy Anderson, Jaxon Bain, Isaac Paurus and Angelina Nicholas — three will be headed to this national competition in Anaheim, California from April 26-30. Anderson is unable to attend the national championship due to schedule conflicts, but she still represents Perham High School as her category's state champion.
"BPA teaches leadership very well," said Nicholas, a senior who qualified to compete nationally in database applications. "It not only empowers students, but it also shows students how they can connect with other people and just the possibilities for them in the future. You see students, after their BPA experience, going on into higher professions and accomplishing all these things. Those are showcased to students, and that really inspires others to just continue what they do."
Anderson, a senior who won the state championship in graphic design promotion, continued, "It's just a lot of basic skills that everyone's going to need to know. I mean, any job in the future, you should have interview skills, communication skills, just learning basic technology. Now, that's kind of essential when you're working anywhere, so I think just learning those basic skills before you get to go to college (is important)."
Those who aren't familiar with BPA may ask how the activity helps prepare students for their futures. Well, BPA is structured for students who want to pursue careers in business management, information technology, finance, office administration, health administration and more. When students attend competitions, they need to dress formally and learn all the rules behind business attire. Many of the competitions are structured with tasks employees would be given in a specific career field, and the judging often feels like a job interview or a networking opportunity.
For example, when Anderson competed in the graphic design promotion category, she was assigned a fictional company with some additional information to go alongside it. Then, she designed a laptop skin, an iPhone skin and a water bottle sticker using different elements from researching graphic design in this fictional company's field. Afterward, she presented her creations to a panel of judges to discuss her design choices, target audience and more.
Some of the group categories also teach students teamwork skills for the future, such as the video production team category. This is the category that juniors Isaac Paurus and Jaxon Bain will be competing in at the national level.
"Our (category) is pretty self-explanatory; it's video production," Bain explained. "So, we had our task we had to complete; we had to create a three-to-five-minute video on an endangered species of our choice and how to help it. So, we had a few days that we set aside. We filmed, and we did some interviews with some of our teachers about the environment. Then, we edit it all together."
Paurus and Bain chose to do their video on the black rhino. So, not only did they learn more about filming and editing videos, but they also learned more about environmental science. Then, at the competition, they got to flex their newly-learned interview skills. The judges watch competitors' videos about a week in advance, and a discussion between them and the students begins.
"We recap the video, and then we go over aspects of like, why did we choose to do that?" Paurus said. "We go over the color grading and other information about the video."
For Nicholas, who will be competing nationally in database applications, the competition for her category looks a little different since it's computerized. She sits at a computer and is given a task or a packet of tasks that she has to go through and finish as fast and accurately as possible. From there, she's graded by accuracy.
BPA has a wide variety of almost 70 categories for students interested in a number of fields. Students who choose to compete start by attending their regional conferences. Those who qualify then compete at the state competition. At the 2023 State Leadership Conference, 867 students competed, including 11 Perham students. Depending on the category, either the top three or top five winners qualify to compete at a national level with students from all across the country. Paurus, Bain and Anderson walked away from the state competition with first-place trophies.
"On stage, once you hear them call out third place and then second place, it's either you won it or you didn't," Paurus said. "And then, actually behind the stage on the projector, I can see our faces pop up like on the other side. I was like, 'Oh my goodness, we won!' And then they called out names, and we went out there."
Nicholas found out that she qualified for nationals a little differently. While she originally didn't qualify, she was really close. So close, in fact, that when other competitors were unable to compete at the national level, Nicholas was the next in line to go. At around 11 a.m. after the state conference, as she was exhausted and half-asleep, she got a text from BPA Instructor Heather Stohs that just said, "Hey, guess what?"
"I was like, 'Oh no, what happened?'" Nicholas laughed. "And she's like, 'Oh, you made it to nationals.' And at the time, I was like half-asleep because we didn't get back from the competition until like 2 a.m. So it's 11, and I was still so tired. I was like, 'Oh cool.' After I processed it though, I was very excited."
This has been a successful first year for Perham students involved with BPA, and the four national-level qualifiers all expressed love for the activity. Nicholas, Paurus and Bain are all very excited to go, and though Anderson will be unable to compete at the national competition due to schedule conflicts, she wishes her teammates luck.
"Something like this is benefiting my future," Anderson reflected on her participation in BPA. "At the end of the day, it's being with your friends, your teammates, and just having fun, and being competitive and trying your best."
The BPA National Leadership Conference will take place in Anaheim, California, from April 26-30. For more information on this event or BPA, go to bpa.org .