NORTH ADAMS, Mass.— McCann students competed in the national Business Professionals of America (BPA) competition in Dallas, Texas, recently.
The road to Dallas started earlier this year and each student first had to qualify at the regional competition that was held at the school.
"Some of the competitions are in front of judges like speeches and presentations," student Molly Boyer said. "Others you just get on a computer and take your test."
"They competed in four or five different competitions at the state level," BPA adviser Rebecca Buck said. "There are business competitions, design, health science competitions."
The senior and group of juniors competed in Dallas against more than 6,000 other students.
"You may have 61 people in your competition another you may have 300," Buck said. "... It is a much larger scale at a much larger venue so I think it tends to be a little intimidating."
This was their first in-person competition with last year being fully virtual. Because of this, the group decided to go for written tests to ease their way into the competition.
"I think next year I might try something else but because this was the first year back in person I sort of wanted to ease into it," Boyer said.
These written tests were just as stressful, said Mia Parise.
"You have 90 minutes to take your test or you can have 60 minutes," she said. "It is stressful especially when you see people finishing up around you."
The top competitors "stage," said Buck. Unfortunately, none of the McCann students staged this year, although, student Jake Wood was only three places off of staging in spreadsheets.
"Nobody got up on stage at the national level, but they did really well in the competition," Buck said. "Some of them were in the top 50 percent."
"Even though they did not come back with any medals or awards I think that it was a great experience," she said.
Wood, who also serves as the elected BPA State Historian, agreed and said the event was great for networking and meeting new people.
"You get to talk to people from throughout the country and learn about different ways of life," Wood said. "...It really teaches you how to network with a multitude of different people. It helps to learn those skills, and you gain a lot of professionalism."
This was encouraged at the competition and Parise said they collected pins from other competitors. Each pin is labeled with a different state.
"Outside of the competition we met different people and traded pins," she said. "You buy and trade pins with people from other states."
Student Macey Tatro said just going west was a new experience. She said it was a different world noting the bigger cities and highways. Also, it was pretty hot.
The students ventured out to different restaurants, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza and even an aquarium but the hotel itself, where the competition was held, met most of their needs.
Tatro said there were even activities and said they got to participate in mini golf, ax throwing, and even a hoedown complete with a mechanical bull and armadillo racing.
The group said they are ready to participate again next year noting that it not only looks good on a resume but actually reinforces important skills in the field.
Buck added that she was proud of the students who prepare for these competitions on their own time.
"They are committed to this and they work from pretty much the start of December pretty much until we leave in May," she said. "They prepare after school and some of them have jobs and play sports. They are committed to making this happen."
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