WORTHINGTON - Members of the Worthington High School BPA (Business Professionals of America) chapter earned bragging rights at the recent Region 8 competition in Granite Falls.


With 14 of the chapter’s 40-plus members competing, 10 qualified either as individuals or as part of a team for the state BPA contest, scheduled for March 7-9 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Minneapolis.


“All the students did such a wonderful job again this year,” said WHS BPA adviser Penny Troe.


“We had more students compete than in the past few years, and it’s nice to see that,” she added.


Even so, Troe emphasizes quality over quantity.


“We’re not seeking students who just want a resume builder, but those who are dedicated and really want to compete,” she said.


Troe, now in her 21st year of teaching business classes and advising BPA at WHS, is passionate about the benefits of the program.


“One of BPA’s missions is to give students employability skills and prepare them for the workforce,” she said. “A lot of students can gain from their involvement in it.


“BPA is like FFA and FCCLA, but each group has different objectives,” Troe continued. “In BPA, we focus more on the business world, while FFA is about agriculture and FCCLA centers on food, nutrition and childcare.”


Troe explained that BPA - which is maybe more known to the general public as the group that operates the school’s concession stands and spirit wear store - offers more than 100 different competitions for students to consider.


“I always try to help them choose competitions that are matches for their skills; maybe someone is good at math, or excels at speaking or has an eye for design,” she noted.


The BPA students representing WHS at the Region 8 competition apparently found their niches, given that so many succeeded and will advance.


Although the event was postponed by one week due to a blizzard on the originally scheduled date, all but three of the 17 WHS students initially registered still participated.


Students who excel at state may end up proceeding to the BPA National Leadership Conference, slated for Anaheim, Calif., from May 1-5.


“Andy Garcia Arreguin, a junior, went to nationals last year and is working on his Torch Points - points earned through BPA-related community service efforts - to go again,” said Troe, adding that community service is another aspect of BPA that teaches students enduring values going forward.


“We try to do as much as we can to give back to the community,” Troe emphasized.


All the while, BPA strives to expose students to real-world occupations while allowing them to hone skills they can apply in future employment situations.


“BPA can force kids to get out of their comfort zone and learn new skills,” said Troe. “It’s fun when students take those skills and apply them to a competition - or to real-life employment.”


WHS BPA state qualifiers and their qualifying competition categories include: Alex Cuate, Alvaro Fernandez-Rodriguez and Sergio Sanchez, Broadcast News Production Team; New Bu, Digital Media Production; Andy Garcia Arreguin, Extemporaneous Speech; Tad Stewart, Interview Skills; Andy Garcia Arreguin, Ben Lopez, Jack Johnson, Chantel Peralta, New Bu, Sean Souksavath and Tad Stewart, Parliamentary Procedure Team; Jack Johnson, PC Servicing and Troubleshooting.


WHS BPA state runners-up and their competition categories include: Ben Lopez, Extemporaneous Speech; Judy Keophimphone, Graphic Design Promotion; Chantel Peralta, Human Resource Management; Sergio Sanchez, Interview Skills; Sergio Granados Najera, Prepared Speech; and Alicia Robles and Desteny Candelaria, Web Site Design Team.