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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

FBLA Section Leadership Conference becomes week-long virtual event

By Ashley Voong | Staff Writer

Photo by Adelyn Tam

   This year, 19 Gabrielino High School students competed in the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) Gold Coast Section Leadership Conference. Unlike previous years when the eight-hour event took place at a local high school, this year’s conference was a virtual week-long event held Feb. 2-6, with an additional section social event and award session held on Feb. 13.

   After months of preparation, the FBLA competitors—working either individually or collaboratively in groups of two or three—gathered online to take objective tests in their respective events, present prepared projects in front of a panel of judges, and perform a memorized speech in front of an audience.

   Competing amongst other high school students in the Gold Coast Section, 18 Gabrielino students placed across 15 different events, qualifying 15 students to compete in the upcoming State Leadership Conference in April.

   “I definitely felt less nervous this year because the test was online and I was exposed to competition in the past as this is now my fourth year competing,” stated senior Kelly Tsai, who placed fourth in International Business and ninth in Personal Finance.

   In-person conferences consisted of students dressed in formal business attire attending designated classrooms for their respective events. Upon entering the classroom, proctors would ensure the dress code was followed by each competitor, and if one’s attire was deemed as inappropriate, it resulted in disqualification in the competition.

   However, holding the conference virtually this year, competitors were only required to turn on their cameras and microphones to ensure nobody was cheating, and the chances of becoming disqualified due to dress code were minimized.

   Another change in this year’s conference was the dynamic of team events. In previous years, members within a team collaborated on a single test, however this year, each individual team member was given separate tests and their tests were then averaged to determine their team score and ranking in the competition.

   Junior Kristin Song, who participated in two team events and who placed second in Entrepreneurship and fourth in International Business, explained, “Knowing my group members were relying on me, to prepare for the competition I went over old practice exams and if there was any terminology I was unfamiliar with, I would search them up.”

   Junior Paris Ma who succeeded alongside her fellow teammates, Tsai and Song, in International Business, felt less stressed when it came to competing in a team event. Ma also competed in an individual event, placing third in Public Speaking, where she felt more pressure.

   “It was stressful for me. Since I didn’t place last year, I told myself I’ve got to place this year,” Ma stated. “I did research and watched videos from previous years of public speaking competitors and took inspiration from them to craft my own script.”

   Due to the virtual setting, this year’s Section Leadership Conference consisted of more independence compared to prior years.

   “There was a lot less of a community feeling and that was something I feel like we definitely missed out on,” stated Tsai. “I know it’s inevitable but something I enjoyed about these competitions was getting to meet new people throughout the Gold Coast section.”

   In previous years, the conference held service projects and workshops where competitors could learn more about leadership and networking between testing schedules. This year, to compensate for the lack of social interaction throughout the conference, the Gold Coast section office organized a one-hour social event held prior to the award ceremony in which students who wanted to participate could join via Zoom to play games such as Among Us, Scriblio, and Guess the Song.

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FBLA Section Leadership Conference becomes week-long virtual event