Three Northview High School students, and one Clay City High School student, are off to the nation's capital for the 2011 "Stand Out from the Crowd," Business Professionals of America (BPA) competition May 4-8.
Students loaded a bus Tuesday evening to head to D.C. Two are attending nationals to receive an award they've diligently worked hard to earn, and the other two are competing for national titles.
Northview BPA President Taylor Keiser, senior, is one of two students from Northview receiving the Torch Award. Students who win the award work years to earn it. The torch is an ambassador award given to those who show commitment to the management market and human resources aspects of BPA.
Keiser spent two years completing tasks to earn points in seven different categories like community service, leadership, love-hope-faith, patriotism, knowledge, cooperation and friendship. According to students, each recipient must earn 70 points in each category to qualify and most tasks are worth 10-15 points each.
"The experience is great and I am eager to see all the monuments and museums as well as participate in all the BPA activities," Keiser said about the trip.
After graduation, Keiser plans to apply skills and knowledge she acquired in BPA in future plans. She is pursuing a Business Administration degree from Ivy Tech.
Northview senior Nate Rose, whose future plans include earning an accounting and marketing degree from University of Evansville, will also be receiving a Torch Award he's been working toward throughout his high school career. Rose volunteered at nursing homes and church events to earn points. He led Bible studies and prepared lessons, as well as joined fellow BPA members who volunteered at the Special Olympics Area Bowling tournament.
"I am more ready and willing to volunteer as a result. You create a social network. You're a more caring person and interpersonal relationships grow," Rose said.
During her first, and only, year participating in BPA, Northview senior Annie Smiley won first place at both district and state competitions in the interview skills category.
Interview skills involves participating in a series of mock interviews and studying information given to her about a make believe corporation.
Judges pose as employers who want to hire her, and Smiley's goal is to wow them with her interpersonal skills and knowledge of the company.
"Winning my first year came as a shock to me. I wasn't expecting it at all," Smiley said.
Smiley hopes to use interview skills when she attends Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis for pre-occupational therapy.
Smiley said the key to succeeding in interview skills is "coming off not being nervous and worried."
"Annie did really well and I would not be surprised if she becomes a finalist at nationals," Northview BPA Sponsor Beth Moody said.
The students work really hard place in competitions, but also see how hard their teacher works to get them there.
"If it weren't for Mrs. Moody putting forth so much effort, we wouldn't be going to Washington D.C. She really pushes you to make you better," Keiser said appreciatively.
Senior Shawnie Breer was also eligible to attend nationals, but she had a scheduling conflict with an advance placement examination.
Moody and students want to thank their sponsors, the Elks Lodge, VFW, Dr. Gary Staddt, Northview FFA, Bowman's Turf and Dr. Austin Burns for financially supporting them.
It's approximately $700 for each student to attend nationals.
"It's just really rewarding to see the students work together to earn the money to go," Moody said.
Clay City High School senior Caroline Beyers is traveling with Northview students to attend nationals. She will be competing in the document formatting area. She is the only student from Clay City attending to nationals.
Beyers placed third in state competition against approximately 40 others from around Indiana the last weekend in February.
Elissa Downey, Clay City High School's BPA sponsor, said Beyers is the first student from Clay City in a long time to place this high at state and compete in nationals
"We went to state, and we've had a long dry run since anyone has advanced to nationals. When students work this hard, you want to see them succeed. I am just really glad to know that she is getting this opportunity," Downey said. "When her name was called, her face just lit up more and more each time. Every name they called, she knew she was closer and closer to nationals."
Scores are based on how well a student can format documents. The tasks include advanced word processing, proofreading, document formatting, mail merge and editing speeches. The number of mistakes they make determines a competitor's overall score.
"Three mistakes and you get a zero," Downey said.
There will be 5,000 other conference delegates from across the country participating in the conference. Students will participate in workshops, general sessions, national officer candidate campaigns and elections.
According to a press release from the BPA organization, the conference will begin "at the foot of the Washington Monument as the first Career Technical Student Organization gathers at the National Mall."