Future Business Leaders of America is a club at Weber High that prepares students for the real-world and the business side of life. For three Warriors, all upcoming seniors, FBLA is an avenue to ride their passions. Lucky for them, they are also good at it…like, second place nationally good.
For perspective, FBLA, according to their website, “recognizes and rewards excellence in a broad range of business and career-related areas.” Throughout the school year, events are organized at a region, state, and then national level to prepare students for “successful careers in business by providing opportunities to apply classroom concepts in a workforce-simulated competitive environment.” There are over 70 sponsored events, such as business financial plans, speeches, ethics exams, and coding and programming, too.
Taylor Laing, Maxwell Lunt, and David White created a Public Service Announcement addressing the issue of student safety with regards to cyberbullying. The trio competed against 54 teams in the state of Utah, earning a perfect score from each of the judges in their PSA along the way. This led to a first-place finish, which helped the Weber High team proudly place fourth at State, which was the highest ranking in the last 20 years.
Thanks to destroying the competition locally, Laing, Lunt,
and White qualified to present in Baltimore at Nationals this past June.
Future Business Leaders of America Club Members Taylor Laing, Maxwell Lunt and David White take second place nationally
White said, “Our message was protection and prevention from cyberbullying for the students.” Laing added, “The focus for our presentation was for youth to find help and to do our best to stop this epidemic from spreading. We were able to give accurate statistics of those affected, and the rates at which it is spreading. We also offered a solution: the SafeUtah app.” Lunt said, “While it was a given topic, we loved spreading awareness of the rising problem.”
Laing, a two-year FBLA veteran, continued the team’s focus behind their PSA, pointing out that “No more should students need to bow down to the harsh words of others when they can find help and gain a greater strength to stand up to these bullies–whether calling them out or standing up for themselves or reaching out for help. We chose this because each of us has been affected by cyberbullying within our schooling lives. However, we all admit that we didn’t talk to anybody about it.”
Lunt explained the team’s process. “We had to start with a brainstorm of what would be the most realistic video to portray cyberbullying, so we shot a video of a high school girl getting bullied over text. We rehearsed and put together a great presentation and used local stats to capture the essence of the problem.” In the video, the girl is distraught from the threats and remarks made via social media. She then switches apps to SafeUT where she can send anonymous tips or engage in conversation with licensed therapists and psychologists if she needs to.
Last month, other members of the Weber High FBLA team joined these young men and flew from Utah to the East Coast to compete in FBLA Nationals. The group was able to visit Washington DC, including a special tour of the capital hosted by Rob Bishop’s office. After sightseeing, the team took a bus to Baltimore, where they stayed in a hotel that overlooked Inner Harbor. Once in the land of crab-cakes and Orioles, it was all business (pun intended) as the young adults from Weber High split into their various groups to compete in their events.
For Laing, Lunt, and White, the hard part of creating the video was already finished, yet they would still present. There were 105 teams from across the county competing in the PSA event, and only the top 14 would advance to finals. After showcasing their PSA, the young men then answered questions from the judges while demonstrating and explaining a bit of their research, process, and background information. During the final presentation, the group stood in front of not only judges, but anyone else that wanted to watch that final round.
After that, “it was pure anticipation until results were given that Sunday,” Laing said.
Alan Rawlins, advisor, said the group “learned a lot doing the PSA event last year, so we were able to use that knowledge this year with this group.” He adds that, “David, Taylor, and Max worked hard at putting this PSA together in all aspects from the video to the presentation.” Rawlins is also quick to mention that “As an advisor, I am extremely proud of them and all they have accomplished. Sitting in their final presentation, I got a little emotional because it was the final time they were doing it and because they had worked so hard.”
By the time Sunday rolled around, the boys felt good about their chances. Perhaps what they weren’t expecting was a trophy and $600.
After hearing that his team took second place, White said, “My first reaction was ‘Holy cow, I actually did it!’” Once the reality and tally set in, he also admits that “my thoughts soon followed to ‘Man, we were so close to first!’”
Rawlins, who has been the FBLA advisor for seven years, said his reaction was that of pure happiness and surprise. “I was hoping they would get higher than seventh, which was the highest I have had others finish. Once they hit the top five, I was shaking with excitement.”
Lunt shares a similar sentiment. “I was freaking out because I was so excited that all our hard work paid off and our message had been heard.” Laing agrees and said, “What else could be better? Second place is all I could’ve hoped for. It’s a dream come true for me.”
All three boys will continue their high school education as seniors this upcoming year, and because of their success, won’t be able to compete in the PSA event again. However, they all still hope to compete in other FBLA events to round out their skills and prepare for future business endeavors.
And even though this wild ride and accomplishment is coming to a close, White says, “This presentation, PSA, and the SafeUt app can help more people than just the judges we presented to. Even though our competition has ended, our job of spreading the word about protection for students from cyberbullying is not over.”