Marinette FBLA members qualify for nationals

Ten Marinette High School Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) members have qualified to participate in the National Leadership Conference after competing at the Wisconsin State Leadership Conference in April. Those going on to the national competition, pictured from left, are: front, Elisha Dura, Ava Dahlman, Kylie Veriha and Bailie Thielen; middle: Alex Mamonov, Elliot Bergstrom and Landon Corwin-Young; and back: Adviser Mikal Gunderson, Charli Nowak and Keegan Polomis. Isabel Rowell also qualified at state and will participate in the national competition.

EagleHerald News Manager

MARINETTE—Ten members of the Marinette High School’s (MHS) Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) qualified for the National Leadership Conference, which will be held virtually June 30-July 2.

“This year’s group of students has been fun to work with and they have done a great job in their competitions starting back in February when we began competing against other schools in northeast Wisconsin at regionals,” said MHS FBLA Adviser Mikal Gunderson.

MHS had 17 FBLA members who competed at the Wisconsin State Leadership Conference in April, with 10 of those members qualifying for the national competition. FBLA members needed to place in the top four of their event to move on to the next step of the competition.

Keegan Polomis, who finished in second place in Management Information Systems, will compete at the national level for the second year in a row.

“(This year) was great, but a different experience to get to go to nationals for the second straight year,” Polomis said, comparing the last two years. “My group (and I) were able to meet and compete together in person some days, but also stay online other times this year while last year was all virtual.”

It was the first year of FBLA competition for several students, including Alex Mamonov, Elisha Dura and Ava Dahlman. Each of them, who all joined for different reasons, will also participate at the national level of competition.

“I heard about the wonderful opportunity to be able to compete in a topic that interests me and jumped right on it,” Mamonov said about joining FBLA. Mamonov placed in second during the state competition to qualify for the national competition.

Dura, who placed third in Management Decision-Making, said, “FBLA was a great way for me to be able to compete in events that were fun and challenging with my friends during the crazy school year.”

“At first, I had no idea what FBLA entailed, and I was very hesitant to join,” Dahlman said. “However, after competing for the first time, I have found it to be a lot of fun. I will definitely be competing again next year!” Dahlman placed third in Electronic Career Portfolio.

The 10 qualifiers include: Second-place finishers: Mamonov and Kylie Veriha in Intro to Event Planning; second-place finishers: Elliot Bergstrom, Polomis, Landon Corwin-Young in Management Information Systems; third-place finishers: Dura, Charli Nowak, Isabel Rowell in Management Decision-Making; third-place finisher: Bailie Thielen in Healthcare Administration, and Dahlman in Electronic Career Portfolio.

“Despite the setbacks and challenges we have faced as an organization not being able to partake in all of the canceled events we normally participate in; the silver lining has been that this is the most successful year Marinette High School has had competing in FBLA since the school chapter reactivated in 2014,” Gunderson said. “Each year we continue to grow as a student organization at MHS, which is a credit to the current and past members who have helped us get to the point (where) we are at right now.”

The goal of FBLA is to help students develop leadership abilities, and prepare for entry into, and advancement within, a business or business-related occupation. Members learn how to engage in business enterprise, how to direct the affairs of a group, and how to compete honorably in competitive events.

Polomis added, “(FBLA is) a great resume builder that helps any and all that want to pursue a future in the business world.”

According to Gunderson, these activities help prepare students to be better employees and citizens. Participation in FBLA can have a direct impact on the direction and success of a young person’s career.

As with many events and competitions this year, the pandemic has created more obstacles to add to the regular challenges, including how MHS FBLA conducts business as an organization.

“One challenge was studying for the tests. We weren’t able to study together as a team, so we had to do a lot of individual work and collaborate with teammates online,” Dura explained.

“I couldn’t be prouder of how each student was able to adapt and still be successful despite competing virtually. Competing online brings with it its own challenges and doesn’t give these students the chance to connect by having face-to-face interactions the live competition and conferences bring,” Gunderson said. “I truly believe these students have learned more this year adapting to a difficult situation than they would have in a normal year, despite it costing them the experience of competing in-person in California.”