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Westwood winners: Students take part in business competition

Westwood High Schools are top finishers in recent Business Professionals of America competition. Seated from left are: Hunter LeClair, Landon Ouellette, Alex Adriano, Jacob Johnson, Zachary Beckman, Daniel Ostola, Tristen Harsila, Noah Penrose and Luke Mariuzza. Standing from left are: Natalie Prophet, Kaylee LaMere, Renee Blanck, Maggie Boburka, Allie Grochowski, Angelina Heinzman, Chloe Grochowski, Kalle Keranen, Elizabeth Williams, Jillian Koski, Avery Mariuzza, Sophia Balzarini and Meg Harmon. (Photo courtesy of NICE Community Schools)

ISHPEMING — High school is not too early to learn about being a business professional.

Although Westwood High School students previously had taken part in Business Professionals of America Regional Leadership Conference competition, this year’s regional event was held virtually because of COVID-19, with over 250 Upper Peninsula students taking part from Jan. 6-13.

The fact it was virtual didn’t prevent Westwood students from performing well, with 22 student BPA members earning dozens of top four awards and qualifying for the state competition.

Students competed in contests relating to finance, business administration, management information systems, digital communication and design, management/marketing/communications and health administration.

Teachers Ronalyn Arseneau and Sabina Villar oversaw the students’ efforts.

Arseneau said the students normally compete in person in Escanaba. The virtual format, though, required a different means of competing.

“We scheduled our students into their contests and tried to create an authentic competitive environment for them so they would hopefully be successful,” Arseneau said.

She said many contests line up well with what is taught at Westwood.

“They’re preparing, basically, in their classes every day just by way of the content that we deliver,” said Arseneau, who noted some students practice after school, at lunchtime or other time periods.

Winning awards at the regional level, in alphabetical order, were: Alex Adriano, second, Video Production Team; Sophia Balzarini, first, Human Resource Management, and second, Extemporaneous Speech; Zachary Beckman, first, Administrative Support Team; Renee Blanck, second, Fundamental Word Processing; Maggie Boburka, first, Interview Skills, third, Legal Office Procedures; Allie Grochowski, third, Interview Skills, and fourth, Legal Office Procedures; Chloe Grochowski, first, Basic Office Systems and Procedures, and second, Human Resource Management, and second, Business Meeting Management; and Meg Harmon, first, Extemporaneous Speech, second, Health Administration Procedures, and second, Management/Marketing/Human Resources Concepts, and third, Business Spelling.

Also, Angelina Heinzman, second, Fundamental Spreadsheet Applications, and second, Database Applications; Jacob Johnson, first, Fundamental Word Processing; Kalle Keranen, second, Legal Office Procedures, and third, Basic Office Systems and Procedures; Jillian Koski, first, Legal Office Procedures, first, Advanced Office Systems and Procedures, and third Administrative Support Concepts; Kaylee LaMere, first, Database Applications, and fourth, and Payroll Accounting; Hunter LeClair, first, Fundamental Accounting, first, Advanced Word Processing, and first, Financial Math and Analysis Concepts; and Avery Mariuzza, first, Health Administration Procedures, and second, Advanced Office Systems and Procedures.

Also, Luke Mariuzza, second, Business Law and Ethics, and third, Banking and Finance; Daniel Ostola, first, Administrative Support Team; Landon Ouellette, second, Video Production Team, and fourth, Business Meeting Management; Noah Penrose, third, Intermediate Word Processing, and fourth, Administrative Support Concepts; Natalie Prophet, first, Administrative Support Team; and Elizabeth Williams, first, Administrative Support Research Project, first, Intermediate Word Processing, third, Financial Math and Analysis, and third, Management/Marketing/Human Resources Concepts.

Koski, a Westwood junior, said in an email, “This year was quite different for BPA, as we were unable to compete in person. Never having competed virtually before, my classmates and I were nervous going into the competition, but our chapter advisors did everything they could so we were prepared.”

She placed first in both of my events, Legal Office Procedures and Advanced Office Systems and Procedures, noting almost the entire chapter at Westwood qualifying for the state competition.

“So despite the fact we couldn’t compete in person, we were still able to make it as close to a normal competition day as possible, while still remaining safe,” Koski said.

The students will represent Westwood at the BPA State Leadership Conference in March when they will compete against students — again, virtually — from across Michigan, attend workshops designed to help them in professional development and gain valuable skills.

Top students at the state level will advance to the National Leadership Conference scheduled for early May, which for now is scheduled for Orlando, Florida, Arseneau said.

Whatever careers they choose, Arseneau believes students can benefit from their high school BPA experiences.

“So many of these students don’t necessarily go into business careers, but a lot of the content really translates to almost any career,” Arseneau said. “Excel is an important program for students to use across the sciences and across many different areas.

“Of course, students who go into business — the preparations and their competitions really do give them a leg up in college and in their careers. We’ve had students who get jobs while they’re in college that helped pay for their college expenses based on the skills that they’ve acquired through BPA.”

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net

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