Statebound business club concerned about futurePublished 10:39am Wednesday, January 27, 2010
By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star
When President Barack Obama addresses the nation during the State of the Union tonight, he’s expected to focus his speech around America’s workforce and jobs – or, more appropriately the lack thereof.
For high school and college students, Obama’s plan to infuse the country with new work is particularly concerning, considering they will be joining the currently unemployed in competing for those jobs.
Programs like Business Professionals of America, a club several Niles High School students are participating in, which teach a variety of business and job related skills, requiring those students to conduct research and hold presentations for judging in regional and state level competitions are just another way schools can prepare students for life after school.
But with shrinking aid and increasing pressure on school districts are putting programs like these in jeopardy.
“It’s getting harder and harder to have these programs because of state funding,” Michele Clement, the club’s administrative adviser said Tuesday. “It’s a good investment for kids.”
Those kids are doing pretty well, with several members of the club who will participate in state competition.
“There’s a chance, yes,” Principal Jim Knoll said, about seeing programs like BPA as well as other clubs, sports and extra curricular courses go away. “The kids get a ton out of these clubs. It would be really sad if we had to go that far.”
Students like Alex and Erica Haimbaugh, Kaitlin Payne and Jerrid Burdue are are learning economics, prepared speech and banking and finance.
“I think we’re all learning our specific areas,” Alex said. She and Payne wrote a research paper on the future of jobs for future generations and based on that research the two seem fairly confident that by the time they enter the workforce full time, conditions will be better with a rebound in the economy and more jobs on the table.
Erica said preparing a speech for judges has helped her acquire skills in public speaking and appearance, speaking clearly and getting her message across.
Niles High School students will represent their region at the State Leadership Conference in Grand Rapids in March. Such competitions require funding. Clement and Knoll said fundraising is a big part of being able to afford to participate. From a school budget standpoint, Knoll said a lot of clubs are operating via volunteers and unpaid advisers in order to continue operating at all, something BPA might have to look at doing in the future if at all possible. Even with cutting costs and raising funds, Knoll said it costs the school for transportation and lodging in some cases.
“The cost for this comes in for competitions,” he said. Still, Knoll emphasized the importance and impact of such programs on students who participate in them.
“We try to support as many of those types of clubs that we can, ” he said.
Niles High School students who will participate in state competition for Business Professionals of America include:
Lena Cramer, first place for Advanced Spreadsheet Applications
Gabriel Casey, first place for Entrepreneurship
Pierce Albert, first place for Fundamentals of Web Design
Jade Hoglund and Gabriel Casey, first place for Global Marketing Team
Pierce Albert and Megan Lighthart, first place for Web Application Design Team
Lena Cramer, Bryan Evans, Taylor Purucker and Travis Parish, second place for Financial Analysis Team
Gabriel Casey, second place for Insurance Concepts
Jerrid Burdue second place for Banking and Finance
Kaitlyn Payne and Alex Haimbaugh, second place for Economic Research Team
Erica Haimbaugh, third place for Prepared Speech
Bryan Evans, third place for Banking and Finance
Derrick Goodrich, fourth place Financial Math & Analysis
Derrick Goodrich, fifth place for Payroll Accounting
Michaela Miller, fifth place for Fundamental Spreadsheet Applications
Danielle Blank, sixth place for Legal Office Procedures
Tyler Parish, alternate for Payroll Accounting