Developing Future Business Leaders of America

August 2017

Writer // Janelle Morrison

This past May, nine members of the Zionsville Community High School (ZCHS) Business Professionals of America (BPA) club competed at the BPA National Leadership Conference in Orlando, Florida. As the club gears up for the upcoming school year, the club’s teacher, Johnathan Grismore, was ecstatic to announce that the school board approved the addition of a Leadership class based on the framework of BPA.

BPA is a co-curricular business club that further enhances classes by providing students with a real-life, authentic learning environment that extends well beyond the classroom. BPA prepares students for the business world through the skills of leadership, citizenship, academic, and technology. One of the highlights of the organization are its leadership conferences, enabling students to network with both professionals and students, attend leadership workshops and compete in events against other schools from around the area, state and country in events based on the following business categories: Finance, Administration, Information Systems, Digital Communication and Marketing.

“Due to the impact BPA has had on our students, we will be starting a Leadership class for the 2017-18 school year,” Grismore said. “This will enable us to expand upon BPA as more than just a club/organization as well as provide an avenue for leadership development that will be new to ZCHS. We are very excited to offer this to our students. We will have around 15-20 students in the fall.”
Seniors Will Hobick and Katie Anderson both competed at the nationals this year and spoke to us about what their involvement with BPA has done to prepare them for college and beyond. Hobick has a passion for graphic design and logo creation, so he competed in the Digital Media Promotion events.

“This was my first year in BPA,” Hobick said. “I’ve always liked graphic design but wasn’t sure that I wanted to do it full-time as a career. Now, after being in BPA and competing, I see where I can use my skills in graphic design and combine it with the business skills that I am learning. For my event, I had to design a logo and a video for next year’s national completion. The promotional video had to give an overview of next year’s competition. Before competing, I knew that I loved doing graphic design and making logos, but I wasn’t sure where my level was compared to my peers. After competing, I was able to evaluate my skills compared to the other students and build my confidence.”

Anderson chose Human Resource Management for her events. She explained, “My events were presentations, and presenting has taught me that the only way to gain confidence is by doing it over and over again. My first year in BPA, I decided that I wanted to do Human Resource Management. I wasn’t quite sure exactly what that was when I got into it, but I learned quickly, and it has been fun. I made it to State that first year, and it was actually more fun as the cases became more challenging. At nationals, I was presented with a problem in my fictitious work place, and as the ‘HR manager,’ I have to think quickly. I was given 20 minutes to prepare a three to five-minute speech about my solution. There is a lot of mental preparation that goes into this.” ZCHS’ BPA has grown from 31 members to 96 in its three years of existence. Grismore attributes that to a strong business department and supportive administration.

“As a teacher, I get more excitement and joy out of seeing them go above and beyond the classroom stuff, and taking them to BPA Nationals is a highlight of my year. It’s hard for me to get away from my family, but seeing these kids put in the extra effort makes me want to put in the extra effort for them. Our program has been around for three years, and we’ve had at least one student attend nationals all three of those years. Last year, we took seven, and this past May, we took nine. There are approximately 5,000 students in Indiana that participate in BPA.”

With the addition of the Leadership class, Grismore is excited about growing the program and reaching out to the local business community to explore ways to create even more learning opportunities with local business owners and mentors. He is also excited to see what the extra classroom time will provide the BPA students throughout the year.

“Going into this year with our new elective class, we will be able to do more with that extra hour a day and have more one-on-one and small group time,” Grismore said. “After seeing what these kids have been able to accomplish on their own time, imagine what they can do having this extra time in class. Even if the kids don’t major in business in college, they are developing skills that they will use in any career and throughout their lives.”

Kate Swanson, executive director of zWORKS, explained that the schools’ Entrepreneurial Club is already involved with an internship program with zWORKS, and she welcomes the continued collaboration with Grismore and his BPA students for additional learning and internship opportunities.

“I am thrilled with the collaboration that I’ve already seen with the Entrepreneurial Club and zWORKS,” Swanson emphasized. “It’s been interesting to see what the student interns and the entrepreneurs get out of the internship program. The experience that these kids are getting is amazing. Having phenomenal examples of entrepreneurship in our community is such a bonus to the kids. Being able to see it firsthand and watch them create these businesses is a valuable learning experience for the kids.”

Follow Mr. Grismore and the BPA club and class this year at smore.com/4aeyr-zionsville-bpa.

The following are recognitions that ZCHS BPA students were awarded as an overall chapter:
Community Service
Marketing & PR
Activities of Excellence

The following students were honored for a variety of activities/contests:
Katie Anderson – Ambassador Torch (the highest individual student honor; award based on community service and leadership activities)
Sam Ungar and Kurt Roeder – 1st place, Accounting/Finance Virtual Business (each awarded a $500 scholarship)
Sam Ungar – 4th place, “Bank On It” Finance Challenge

The following students competed in the Finals of their individual event:
Vita Frohlich – 6th place, Interview Skills
Will Hobick – 10th place, Digital Media Production
Alex Carr – 10th place, Extemporaneous Speech
Kurt Roeder – 11th place, Human Resource Management

Also in attendance: Annie Hockel, Thomas Hoops and Alex Buttars