School Board hears of FBLA’s growth at PHS

by Dave Cary
Review Correspondent

PLYMOUTH — To use a shopworn and somewhat puzzling phrase, the Future Business Leaders of America organization at Plymouth High School has, in the past couple years, been growing like nobody’s business, the School Board was told Tuesday evening.

The organization’s progress was presented by Business Education teachers June Winkel and Todd Williams, with an assist from student Aidan Woida, president of the PHS FBLA.

Williams said that from a rather sparse beginning two years ago, the Business Education department has grown to offer a full slate of courses, both traditional business courses and related computer technologies. This, of course, helped spur FBLA’s growth.

The organization then developed partnership arrangements with several nearby entities: local businesses, Junior Achievement, Lakeshore Technical College, Lakeland College, and the more remote Microsoft IT Academy.

An early event, Williams said, came with the PHS group’s own “reality day” after viewing other schools’ versions. In this event, volunteer students choose a career path and are assigned a hypothetical position and salary in it; then they are required to budget their expenses for a full month, using hypothetical expenses but writing ‘checks’ to cover them. Williams said Kohler Credit Union had provided assistance with this event plus paper materials.

The group has also arranged for several guest speakers on various topics over the year. It has also staged an event where a group of students develops and drafts a business plan, which is then discussed and critiqued by local business leaders.

The partnership with LTC has meant that students can now earn up to 13 transcripted (college) credits from LTC, with another seven possible in Advanced Standing classes, which bestow certifi- cation in the MS Word, Powerpoint, Excel and Access programs. These credits can be earned at no cost.

Through the partnership with Lakeland College, PHS FBLA students may participate in a Forensic Accounting Competition as well as a “tax day”in which LC accounting students partner with PHS FBLA students to go over the students’ tax returns. This is overseen by a LC professor as well as a local accountant.

Through Junior Achievement, students are exposed to business ethics in accounting, and three PHS students qualified for the Business Challenge at Acuity Insurance this year.

The organization also has developed relationships with several professional business organizations as well as the National Business Education Association.

In a similar vein, National Business Honor Society memberships may be awarded to business students who maintain a 3.5 GPA in business courses, 3.0 overall, have junior standing and who apply.

Woida gave more tangible evidence of growth. Membership, he said, started at 35 two years ago, then went to 62 last year and now stands at 74 – over 100 percent growth in two years.

In competitive events, Plymouth makes a strong showing, he said, especially since it had a late start. In one event, PHS came in fourth of 27 in the area then placed seventh of 162 in a state event, sending nine students to the national leadership conference. This year, he said, PHS sent 35 to the state competition in 16 events – equal to the whole membership two years ago and ranks in the top eight in the state.

Woida said the FBLA also does community projects, notably gift packeges for military members, through its fundraisers.

High School Principal Jennifer Rauscher, who had introduced Winkel and Williams, said she felt this growth reflected the ‘character and dedication’ of the two.

“We didn’t have even one fulltime business education teacher when they came,” she said. “And now both have teaching (loads) that you can’t even put in a normal teaching schedule.”

• • •

In board matters, Community Education liaison Richard York said that this committee was looking for additional members, with a free fitness course as an incentive. Foundation Board liaison member Bob Travis said the foundation’s director, Ann Troka, had resigned and that that committee too was seeking a replacement.

Board member Jamie Gambrell was named the board’s liaison to CESA 7 to replace John Klemme, who retired.

Newly elected Tony Backhaus, as well as returning member Bob Travis and board president Tim St. Clair took the oath of office.

• • •

In personnel matters, the board accepted then resignation requests of:

• Gina Bainter speech and language pathologist at Horizon, after one year with the district

• Jessica Mella, Community Educaton nutrition and wellness coordinator, after five years with the district.

• Marilyn Vorpagel, cross-categorical teacher at Horizon, after 25 years with the district.


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