The Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) is an organization that helps high school students prepare for the business world by teaching them different professional skills, such as meeting etiquette and dressing professionally, that they can apply to their life after high school and college.
In the FBLA’s Wayne High School chapter, three students have made it to state competition. Jared Middlebrook, son of Mike and Mendy Middlebrook, a junior at Wayne High School, became the vice president of the chapter after a long campaign. Davin Veach, son of Cody and Lisa Veach, a senior at Wayne High School, says he joined the organization for the fun of it and says he may get involved with agriculture business. Brady Hackney, son of Chris Hackney and Patty Hackney, a senior at Wayne High School, is involved in FBLA to advance his knowledge of running a business in order to start his own law office someday.
The students have to put in extra time and work into FBLA as they attend their regular school classes, but the three boys say they’ve put in the time after school to help Middlebrook with his campaign and do their own work for the organization.
“It’s a ton of extra time,” Middlebrook says, “about six or seven extra hours a week. When I ran for VP, we were spending 10-15 hours at school.”
While on the campaign, Middlebrook had Veach and Hackney helping him as part of his campaign team of 12 students. Along with his campaign manager, Caitlyn Pruiett, a senior, the team worked hard to help him win the position.
They say not only did they have to come up with a campaign speech, slogan and regular campaigning, they also tediously wrapped 800 pieces of chocolate with the campaign’s slogan, “Middlebrook, putting the B in business since 1939.” The year references to when the Middlebrook family first built their standard station in Corydon.
“There were a lot of people running that said they would get more chapters involved in FBLA and Jared was very specific on what he would do to get people involved,” Hackney says.
The road to state level competition involves taking practice tests or choosing to present, or “perform,” an activity. This year, approximately 900 students competed at state contests. The top six students in each category placed and then have the opportunity to compete at nationals.
The three students are now qualified to compete at the state level for the FBLA, where they will each be taking a business test. They are proud of their accomplishment, but say that without their FBLA sponsor, Holly Bernt, the chapter would not be where they are today.
Bernt is the business teacher at Wayne High School and was in FBLA during her time in high school. She helps the chapter by overseeing the students, planning activities and advising them on how to compete in local and state conferences. Bernt says the Wayne High School FBLA used to only do local activities until six years ago when she had students that wanted to go to state. Last year was the first time they went to nationals.
“As the FBLA sponsor, I give my students the opportunity for leadership outside of the classroom. There are leadership conferences students can attend to gain information and networking skills. They can compete in contests in the spring in order to qualify to compete at nationals during the summer,” Bernt says.
Another part of the FBLA is to encourage students to get involved with their community by volunteering and doing their part to give back. Currently, the Wayne chapter is sponsoring a 5K/1 mile run and walk fundraiser for Macy VanDyne on May 5. The chapter also does activities throughout the year, such as working the concession stand at the Wayne Theatre, volunteering at the Jingle Mingle for the Chamber of Commerce and the Hospital Auxiliary.
Getting involved locally has been beneficial to the Wayne High School chapter and having three students that will be competing at the state level will be a lifetime experience.