A group of 18 Hillsdale High School and Davis Middle School students are headed to Anaheim, California for the annual Business Professionals of America National Leadership Competition which will take place May 1.
According to Hillsdale High School’s Business Professionals of America Club Adviser Mindy Eggleston, the competition will span over the course of five days, covering 60 different events and providing the students an opportunity to showcase the skills they’ve gained over the school year.
Five of the 18 students are high school students: sophomores Sarah Korn, who competed in Intermediate Word Processing, John Maier, who competed in Individual Economic Research Project, Grace Shreffler, who competed in Intermediate Word Processing, Gabriella Springer, who competed in Graphic Design Promotion, and senior Lara Neumann, who competed in Fundamental Accounting.
Gabriella Springer — or Ella, as her father, Hillsdale Professor of Art Bryan Springer, calls her — took first place in the graphic design promotion event.
“It just warms my heart,” Bryan Springer said. “I’m so thrilled, but I don’t want to stifle her interests, but more often than not she’s up in her room doing lettering, illustration and drawing. I don’t want to force anything on her to discourage her.”
Ella Springer’s work outside the classroom it takes to win championships, according to Eggleston.
“I do have a lot of the elements imbedded into the courses that I teach, but it’s also lunch and after school,” Eggleston said. “Especially the kids that want to win, they’re doing things at home and preparing.”
Eggleston started the club in 2008 and it has grown to 75 middle and high school students.
All 75 students traveled to Jackson College on Jan. 11 for the BPA Regional Leadership Competition. From there, 45 students qualified to compete at the state level. The State Leadership Competition was on March 14 – 17 in Grand Rapids, Michigan at the DeVos Place Convention Center in the Amway Plaza. Students who placed in the top three in their event qualified for the NLC.
At the SLC, Hillsdale students showcased their talents in areas such as graphic design, video production, desktop publishing, and broadcasting news. Some of the events we performed live at the competition, while others were prepared ahead of time and presented that weekend.
Eggleston working with the BPA club in 2008 and said she has seen tremendous increase in interest in the club.
“Now it’s the biggest club in the school,” she said. “More than 10 percent of the school’s population is in my club.”
Prior to 2015, Michigan didn’t have a BPA for middle schoolers, it was strictly for high school students. With the addition of the middle school section of the BPA, Eggleston has been able to train her students for longer and it’s showing great results.
“Michigan started a middle school BPA when my daughter was in 7th grade. Those kids are in 10th grade now,” she said. “Interestingly enough, two of the kids I’m taking as 10th graders were middle school state champions, and one middle schooler was a national champion.”
Eggleston said the experience at a younger age has motivated students.
“My middle school program is having an effect,” Eggleston said. “They’ve been on the stage, they know what it takes. We were on the stage more than we’ve ever been. I had whole teams on the stage.”
To be on the stage means placing in the top seven in the event, and at the high school state level, students are competing against four to five thousand other high school students. At the middle school level, the competition isn’t as large, sometimes it’s four to five hundred students, according to Eggleston. But the success at the middle school level is inspiring students to place well while competing against ten times as many students.
“It’s wonderful to see how the program has grown over the years and the skill sets the students have developed,” Hillsdale High School Principal Amy Goldsmith said. “Mrs. Eggleston donates so much time to it, countless hours after school and on the weekends.”
Nine Hillsdale High School students received the Statesman Torch Award at the SLC, as well. The Statesman Torch Award is given to students who participate in local activities that demonstrate the seven Torch categories: leadership; service; cooperation; knowledge; friendship; love, hope, and faith; and patriotism. Students record their activities online to receive points, and once a certain number of points are earned, they can submit a résumé to be reviewed, according to the Torch Awards handbook.