A group shot of competing teams during a break on Day one.
Last month, I headed to Anaheim, CA for a taste of my first FBLA conference. We were a stone’s throw from Disneyland, a location that proved quite popular with students and teachers alike. What better way to celebrate post-competition than a place that brings out everyone’s inner child? Though, it was the middle of most students’ summer vacations, rather than lounging with friends (though I’m sure there was plenty of time for that), everyone got right down to business at the three day conference. I was familiar with FBLA from my high school days but arriving at the conference and seeing hundreds of students scrambling from one event to another was exciting. Albeit our event was much smaller than some of the conference’s larger attractions, we were definitely not lacking in talent and drive at our competition. We had a unique group of participants each vying to be crowned the National LifeSmarts FBLA champion! One striking difference between this event and Nationals is the team composition. Rather than teams of four or five students, only two students work together for the competition. There were newcomers from several states—a duo from TN and a team from Pensacola even placed 4th overall. Seasoned veterans like the teams from CA and VA, also showed up ready to compete. The buzzer matches kicked off to a fast-paced start. Instead of the usual match-up of two teams against two, there were four teams battling for a spot in the next round. One of my favorite parts of competition is Quiz Bee. Students line up and answer a question, giving each member an opportunity to show his or her skills in consumer knowledge. Later on day one, our LifeSmarts workshop with interested FBLA members and advisors was a hit. It’s hard for anyone to pass up free candy for answering LifeSmarts questions with an animal-themed buzzer!
Familiar faces: Team George C. Marshall of VA are the 2017 LifeSmarts FBLA champions!
By day two, we were down to our final few teams. The championship game came down to VA and the all-male team from Lynbrook, CA. The competition was neck-in-neck for several rounds. In the end, team George C. Marshall High of VA (also 2nd place finishers at this year’s Nationals) was named the national LifeSmarts FBLA champions! The end of the competition also signaled another ending. Weeks earlier, many of the participants graduated high school. This conference signaled the of their final secondary school participation before beginning a new phase in life as college students. I’m sure this was a bittersweet realization for many students. They are hopefully now better prepared to face life challenges, all the wiser because of the tools they learned while competing in LifeSmarts.