Tomorrow’s business leaders vie in skill-building programs

FLINT TWP. — Local students interested in business careers demonstrated their skills in competitions during the Region 7 Leadership Conference of Business Professionals of America (BPA) held last Friday at Baker College-Flint. But after many years of participation, Carman- Ainsworth students were not among them.

CA advisors Tom Klee and Leslie Holt decided to try out other educational options, said Klee. He and Holt have a combined 18 years of involvement in BPA including leadership roles.

“We are at this time, holding off on running a chapter, as we took a leave for this year,’’ Klee said. “We are looking at other opportunities and programs for the students to get involved in.”

One of them is LifeSmarts, an online competition operated by the National Consumers League to help teens hone consumer and marketplace knowledge and skills. Like BPA it hosts state and national competitions.

CA students also are trying out DECA, aka Distributive Education Clubs of America, a 60- plus-year-old program designed to prepare high school and college students for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. It boasts more than 185,000 members in 5,000 high school chapters from all 50 states and nine countries. Students learn via web-based activities and simulations and by attending DECA Conferences during the school year.

Like BPA, the new programs are student driven and instructor advised, said Klee, who teaches marketing and computer business classes.

Klee said that CA has not ruled out resuming BPA involvement in the future. He said they have developed great relationships in BPA.

Established in 1966, BPA is a national career and technical student organization consisting of 23 state associations for students in business education programs. The Michigan Association is divided in 10 regions and has approximately 170 local chapters, under the direction of the Michigan Department of Education’s Office of Career and Technical Education.

Students from Grand Blanc, Davison, Flushing and Flint Northern were among about 420 participants at the regional conference last week, competing for Workplace Skills Assessment Program Awards in 74 categories.

Baker awarded two-credit-hour scholarships to first place winners in 10 categories including advanced word processing, banking/finance, human resource management, integrated office applications, interview skills, and fundamental spreadsheets.

Top regional winners go on to compete at the state and national level. Now in it’s 40th year, the State Leadership Conference will be held in Grand Rapids March 22-25 with more than 100 schools statewide represented. The National Leadership Conference will be held April 25-29 in Chicago.

Michael Bender of Grand Blanc High School was a multiple Region 7 winner earning first place finishes in Business Management Concepts and Payroll Accounting. He also placed second in the Economic Research Project–Individual competition.

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