ISHPEMING - They may be high school students now, but they're getting an introduction to the world of professionals.
Fourteen students in the Westwood High School Business Professionals of America program recently qualified to travel to Washington, D.C. to participate in the organization's national competition in the beginning of May.
"It's a Career/Technical Student Organization that helps prepare students for the future," said Westwood business teacher Ronalyn Arseneau.
Fourteen students in the Westwood High School Business Professionals of America program recently qualified to travel to Washington, D.C. to participate in the organization’s national competition. Shown, back row, left to right are, Logan Harvala, Mindy Harrington, Emily Bartanen, Jennifer Lindsey, and Sarah Massie. Center row, left to right, Erin Keto, Allexus Balconi, Alyssa Chapman, Laura Simula, and Kelsey McDonnell. Back row, left to right, Mitchell Caldwell, Francois Montbrun, Tanner Truscott, and Anthony Carlson.
Throughout the year, the students practiced for events such as computer applications, web design, presentations, interviews, word processing, legal office procedures and others. Now, fresh off their trip to the state competitions, 12 of the WHS students will be traveling to nationals.
"We usually have seven, eight, nine (students at nationals), so this year they were wildly successful," Arseneau said.
For students, participating in BPA is a chance to start developing skills they will likely use later in life.
"It teaches you how to dress and act professionally, no matter what career path you decide to take," said senior Mindy Harrington, 18.
"It prepares you for life after high school," said fellow senior Emily Bartanen, 17.
Both Bartanen and Harrington have both previously traveled to the national competition, held last year in California.
"You have to go in prepared," Bartanen said.
BPA runs throughout the school year, and is a co-curricular activity, which means it works with the school's business classes to help prepare students for competition.
"We have such a good business program here it's just kind of natural to do BPA," Bartanen said.
But before they get to the competition, the students who are traveling to nationals have to raise $1,200 each to be able to go.
To help further their fundraising efforts, the BPA students are selling money saver cards, which provide discounts at local businesses.
The cards are $10 each, and available at the Westwood High School office.
Once they get to Washington, the students will be busy in their various competitions, but they'll also have the chance to meet other business students from around the country, as well as getting to be a part of some fun activities like visiting the Smithsonian and going to a Washington Nationals baseball game. The Westwood students will be part of 5,000 other high school students participating in the competition.
To kick off the competition this year, all the participants will meet at the National Mall for the conference opening session.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.