Ready for the future

Published 3:00 pm Saturday, January 14, 2006

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Their skills include PC servicing and troubleshooting, medical office procedures and economic research, to name a few. And, they are tops in the area. They network with business professionals from across the state and showcase their abilities in Grand Rapids.
Sounds like some sort of professional, high-end firm right? Wrong. They are students from Niles High School, and most of them are not even seniors.
Business Professionals of America is a national career and technical organization for high school and college business students, and the region Niles competes in is by far the largest in the state.
At the most recent Regional Leadership Conference held Jan. 6 at Davenport University in Grand Rapids, nine of the BPA members from Niles earned the right to represent their school at the state level.
Matthew Smith took first place in computer network technology and PC servicing and troubleshooting, and third place in information technology concepts. Justin Duncan earned first place in medical office procedures and sixth place in the individual economic research project. First place honors also went to Shawn Mach for integrated office applications. Niles' BPA Financial Analysis Team, which included Nathan Fink, Jordan Hendricks, Tami Madison and Nick Zechlin, also took first place. Third place in keyboarding production was awarded to Daniel Geiger, and Chandel Lawrence earned seventh place in payroll accounting. Madison and Zechlin each earned individual awards in advanced accounting as well. Madison took sixth place and Zechlin was the seventh place finisher.
Other Niles students competing in the event were Paul Butler, Danielle Foster, Lauryn Gibson, Alicia Gipson, Brandon Gritton, Ashley Jenks, Jeff Jergonski, Scott Majerek, Dane Martin, Rebecca Meyers, Megan Scameheorn, Jessica Shinski and Alex Welch.
Sue Miller, business teacher at Niles High School and the head advisor for BPA at the school, said she keeps an eye on the students that come through her classes and recruits the ones who tend to excel in certain areas.
Miller has the students perform in front of business leaders and college professionals prior to competition in order to simulate the actual event. They can then receive feedback on their delivery in a format that is a little more friendly then the actual competition.
This years' Financial Analysis Team only missed three points during competition despite having problems with their printer. Fink, a junior, said the difficulties made the event resemble a true business situation even more.
To Hendricks, the program serves as a way to test the waters of the business world before commiting to the profession on a whim.
Zechlin has also found advantages to being a member of BPA and competing at the regional conference.
BPA has over 54,000 members nation wide who receive experience by networking with business and technological professionals.
The 2006 State Leadership Conference at Grand Rapids' Amway Grand Plaza Hotel will be held on March 16-19. The competition's top performers will advance to the conference in May that is held in Orlando, Fla.