Training the Leaders of Tomorrow

Deion Woods, Reporter

CEO’s, Business Executives, Managers and a plethora of citizens need the training to become great leaders of tomorrow. Some students who want to work towards being a leader or a business owner join extracurriculars that will help them get to that level such as FBLA. FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America),  is a national organization that is designed to help high school students prepare for careers in business by teaching them management skills, leadership experience, financial literacy, marketing experience, and career goals. At PHS, FBLA is a popular extracurricular that has over 150 members. Meetings for FBLA take place on Thursdays in Room C-120 where members discuss business ideas and tactics. They take on adult responsibilities such as communicating with bankers, working as a team, managing cash and revenue for a company and more.

PHS Business Education Teacher and FBLA Lead Advisor Greg Michaels explained, “The purpose [of FBLA] is to get high school kids ready for the next step whether that be college, work, etcetera. The B is a focus on Business, and the L is a focus on Leadership. We’re a very student-run organization. The advisor’s step in when we have to. That would be Mrs. Coppola and I. They make the decisions. They make plans, they make projects, etcetera.”

The club, on the other hand, does not focus only on business, but it also prepares students for the future in all areas of life, regardless of career choice.

“I originally joined because I originally knew I was going into business. I knew that joining FBLA will help me in the long run,” Former President of FBLA Joanne Plaras stated.

FBLA can carry a huge responsibility, especially for the president of a club that is so large.

“Being president of this club gets difficult, but at the end of the day FBLA is an extracurricular and it’s about keeping your priorities in check,” Plaras stated.

Along with the club being huge, this organization is very popular and is highly recognized nationally and internationally. The members also participate in a range of events and activities that have made FBLA very popular and develop a highly regarded reputation both locally and nationally.

“ I would say we’re popular because we do so many different things for students who are very competitive. We have tons of competitive events for students who love to travel. We have trips like academic competitions in places like Baltimore, Maryland. For students who like to do more of the charitable type work, we do some of that. For students who want to learn, we have workshops and activities that help them learn. There is a little something for everybody. Some of them do it all, some do very little. Some do a little bit of this and some do a little bit of that,” Mr. Michaels explained.

Additionally, the activities and events that the club participates in vary, but require the skills they are taught while being a member of FBLA, which includes business plans, banking and a lot more.

“We do a lot of different things. There are about 140 High School Chapters in the state. We’re one of the most active. We now have 208 paid members. One thing we do is academic competitions. There’s charitable work we do from  park clean-up to working with senior citizens here in town. There is a group of people who are learning how to do tax returns. We assist the elderly and low-income Piscataway area residents. We also do character building such as business plan simulation by working with Piscataway Rotary. They come in and learn how to present a real business plan to real bankers,” Michaels stated.

FBLA has also had a sentimental impact on students lives. For example, some members mention that being a part of this organization is very special to them.

“ What makes FBLA special to me are the activities that we do there are so fun and they actually really help me. I feel like we can get a lot out of FBLA than some other clubs that I have joined. ” Sophomore and Officer of FBLA Aditya Reddy stated.

Also, Plaras discusses why this club is very special to her and how much it means to her. She also mentions that it helped her find who she could become potentially.

“FBLA is so special to me because it makes me unlock my true potential. It showed me that I could be successful if I put the work in” Joanne Plaras mentioned.

In addition, Michaels shares his opinion on what students get out of being an FBLA member.

“A lot of students find themselves. Most seniors graduating regret not being a part of FBLA earlier. The club is very student-run, we let them do things that perhaps they couldn’t do in certain chapters or other situations like certainly not a part-time job. They do make mistakes but we all learn from them,” Michaels stated.

On the other hand, FBLA has proven to not only meet the expectations of members, but exceeds them tremendously.

“Since I am an officer, I learn a lot of management skills. For Haunted High I had to manage a group of over 70 students.  It really helps with your management skills and your time skills because you have to create a set deadline for a certain time. Being a member helps with your time management and leadership skills,” Reddy stated

There are also high hopes and expectations for what the future might bring for FBLA members.  Participants speak highly on what they hope to gain from being a member of this extracurricular.

“ What I really hope to expect is more skills such as management and many more new experiences out of this. Hopefully, I gain more friends and more connections from other people. Not only just our school, but from many other schools as well.

The club also hosts events that are exciting, yet beneficial to organizations such as charity. Some events they host include Haunted High and Mission Life: Charity Basketball Game.

“The events are very exciting. For example,  at Haunted High we got to scare little kids. Also, we raised money for a good cause with the Mission Life Basketball Game. We raised over 7,000 dollars two years ago for an amazing cause,” Reddy said

All in all, FBLA has a lot to offer for anyone who is interested. Students get one on one training on how to be professional, how to manage revenue, how to work as a team and important life skills that are vital when encountering the real world.