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DHS Digest: Dickinson High students shine at FBLA state conference

Dickinson High students performed well at the annual North Dakota Future Business Leaders of America state conference.

The conference was held March 30 and April 1 in Grand Forks. Throughout the weekend conference, students from seventh grade through seniors participated in various competitions and events.

One example of these events was insurance and risk management, where students had to determine how much insurance money to give individuals, as well as differentiating between different types of insurance.

Brandon Ledger, a freshman at Dickinson High, took second in this event and, as a result, qualified for national competition that will be held June 29-July 2 in Nashville, Tenn.

In order to qualify, a student had to have finished first, second or third in their competitive event.

“I was honestly surprised,” Ledger said. “My whole concept of insurance going in was like a shady car dealer guy, but I was very impressed with myself because my knowledge of insurance led me to win.”

Ledger said he looks forward to competing in the event at nationals.

Another competition where students tested their skills against other competitors was computer problem solving. The event involved questions about hardware, software and peripherals, as well as general computer maintenance. Junior Ben Pitkin took second in this event and senior Luke Ensign took third. Both qualified for nationals as a result.

“It was a rewarding and joyful experience, and I look forward to competing in it during nationals,” Pitkin said.

Pitkin also talked about the pleasant atmosphere of the conference and all the networking that took place between competition.

In addition to the testing events, students also had a chance to compete in one of the many public speaking events. These events ranged from job interview, where students interviewed for a job and were rated on their performance, to impromptu speaking. Entrepreneurship was a hybrid event, with competitors taking a written test before advancing and delivering a speech in the final round.

Three students, Pitkin, junior Reed Johnson and sophomore Marc Michaelson were members of the DHS team. The preliminary test was taken in March. Five teams in the state moved on and qualified for competition at the state level. Once at the conference, the team had to come up with a creative way to fix a failing business.

In the scenario, a collegiate sports apparel company was failing financially.

Customers were sending in bad reviews and weren’t happy with the brand’s quality. The team of Johnson, Pitkin and Michaelson were tasked with having to come up with a plan of action to fix the business and also impress a panel of “venture capitalists,” who judged the event and scored them accordingly.

The entrepreneurship team had only 20 minutes to prepare, but they took full advantage of their time, Michaelson said.

“Going into it I was a little skeptical because I was a sophomore and had to step up to the level of my upperclassmen,” Michaelson said. “Twenty minutes isn’t a lot for prep time, and it’s hard to have that little prep for a seven-minute speech, especially when you have to divide that time up between three people.”

When students weren’t competing, they had opportunities to network, be with friends or attend one of many mini-sessions offered throughout the day. The mini-sessions were on various topics such as time management and teamwork, as well as fun icebreaker activities.

For DHS junior Kaleb Dschaak, however, the time not spent competing was spent campaigning. Dschaak was vying for president of North Dakota FBLA. As state president, his responsibilities would be organizing the state officer team and also ensuring that all state functions proceed smoothly and effectively.

Dschaak campaigned all weekend, exchanging smiles and handshakes with everyone he met. He tried to be able to reach out to all 1,500 delegates that attended the conference and made sure to leave an impression on all of them.

Dschaak was proven to be successful, for he was sworn in as the new president of the North Dakota FBLA the morning of April 1.

He already has plans for the future of the organization — on the short term, new uniforms for State officers and, in the long term, trying to integrate all of the new officers campaign goals and get them implemented throughout the state.

Dschaak campaigned on the platform of servitude, or how a leader should serve those who follow him. Specifically, he wanted to see more chapters into middle schools and increase momentum for FBLA from social media. He would also like to achieve more individual member buy-in, and see them all comment and leave their feedback for North Dakota FBLA.

Friends, family and classmates alike were all happy for Dschaak’s victory.

Tracy Sipma, DHS FBLA advisor, was perhaps the most proud. Sipma has seen Dschaak mature throughout FBLA since his freshman year. This is Sipma’s second year being the head FBLA advisor for DHS.

Overall, the contingent from Dickinson did very well.

The school sent more than 30 people and ended up having 10 people qualify for nationals. Juniors Abbey Aijala and Rachel Lantz qualified in Public Service Announcement and junior Angelica Kenoley qualified in Public Speaking II. Zach Anderson was one of two seniors that qualified for the national convention.

Students at nationals will have a chance to compete, bond and share memories that will last a lifetime.

They will fly out on June 27 and returning home July 3. While in Nashville, they will tour the cities’ sights and scenery, and get a chance to listen to a live performance at the Grand Ole Opry.

Regardless of the outcome, Dickinson High will be sending some of its finest young men and women to represent North Dakota with pride down in Nashville.

Johnson is a junior at Dickinson High School.