Park City High School’s Future Business Leaders of America triples in size and success
Joanna Lazzaroni and Eli Levine wanted more students to join Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) this year. They put up fliers and spread the word. Now, they have so many they hardly know what to do with them.
FBLA, a club at Park City High School, tripled in size this school year from 24 to 74 active members. Even some eighth-graders from Treasure Mountain Junior High wanted to join, but since the club is for high school students only, the club’s leaders turned them away.
Lazzaroni said that part of the growth is due to the club’s marketing efforts this year, but also because people see that the board is made up of determined, high-achieving students, and they want to be a part of the group.
The club has also tried to diversify the purpose of the club. In the past, people saw it only as a business competition club, now public speakers come to educate students about college, job resumes and other necessary skills. Plus, the club hopes to do a service activity where students will make dolls for refugees in the Middle East.
“In the past, FBLA has been seen as an egotistical, people-only-focus-on-themselves club,” Levine said, “but we are trying to add the social responsibility part.”
With an influx of students with a broad range of skills, the club was able to excel at its first major competition of the season. At region at Utah Valley University in December, 37 students placed and seven walked away with first place. For 17 of those Park City students, it was their first competition.
Lazzaroni said that all of the 74 students are active participants, which is hard to do with a group of students who are also involved in sports, music, AP courses and a dozen other clubs. Some baseball players in the club said that they would go late to one of their tournaments to be able to compete in FBLA’s state competition.
“We know that our club members are all dedicated, and it’s not just a club they can throw on their resumes,” she said.
But, that influx has also proved to be difficult to manage. Before region, the 10 board members scrambled to arrange for more than 40 individuals to take a pre-competition exam with a proctor with only 48 hours of notice. Lazzaroni said she was putting in about 10 to 15 hours a week before region to make sure all students were ready to go.
“It was so chaotic and absolutely insane,” Levine said. “But in this moment of chaos, we really saw a lot of our members stepping up and taking the initiative, proving to us that they want to do it.”
Getting members ready for competition season was also difficult at the invitational the club attended before region.
“We did not place as well as we were hoping and a lot of us were discouraged,” Lazzaroni said.
But the students took the disappointment and practiced more. At region, they swept the competition.
“I definitely think our little setback at our invitational this year pushed us to do so well at regions,” she said.
Levine said that he was proud to see how well the students did, especially those who were new to competing. In particular, two sophomores who had just started in FBLA placed in the top five in five events, Tosh Martin and Jack Troxel.
“They killed it,” he said. “I was so impressed. It was awesome.”
Levine and Lazzaroni said that Park City High has placed well in competitions for several years, even with their low numbers. At nationals last summer, three students placed in the top 10 in their sections. This year, they are excited to see how far they can go, fueled by the program’s growth.
They are hopeful, especially since they have a group of students with a more diverse set of skills. Some are delving into the computer science competitions, which Park City has generally not participated in.
Lazzaroni said that the club helps students from all areas of study learn skills that translate across career lines. For her, the biggest takeaway has been public speaking skills.
“I used to hate talking in front of people,” she said. “But through case studies, I’ve learned how to take on the CEO position of a big job that was created.”
Students in the club also learn how to think on their feet and how to act in a professional setting.
“The environment of professionalism that exists during every competition really elevates your mindset and how you perform and act,” he said. “It’s inspiring to me.”
Although adding more students to the club might prove even more overwhelming for the leaders, Levine and Lazzaroni are happy to welcome them because they see how it can benefit every student at the school.
“Whether or not you go into business, getting these skills really helps with a lot of things,” Levine said.
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The Park City School District offices were inadvertently locked, but security footage was reviewed and the only two community members who showed up were let in and joined in an informal chat with Board of Education members and staff.