Two students from Hayes High School will travel to California next month to compete in the Business Professionals of America’s National Leadership Conference.
For sophomores Claire Artemus and Presley Christopher, the journey to BPA Nationals in Anaheim, California, began last year with a poster in Ann Kanning’s classroom at Hayes.
“We took her personal finance class last year and saw her (BPA) poster, and we were like, ‘We want to do that. We want to do that project and go somewhere,’” Artemus said Thursday.
The pair said they enrolled in Kanning’s business class this school year in order to compete in the presentation category of BPA competitions. The pair took first place at regionals earlier this year and took third place at the state competition held in Columbus last weekend.
Artemus said the state competition was stressful because if they didn’t place in the top three in their category, they would have missed their chance at nationals.
“We were very confident in our knowledge, but it was just regular nerves of presenting it to the judges and knowing that if we did good enough, we can go to California,” Artemus said.
“It was the pressure we had put on ourselves,” Christopher added.
Kanning, who also advises BPA at Hayes, said the pair have spent all their spare time practicing for the competition.
“I got to see firsthand how hard they worked,” Kanning said. “The projector I checked out for their presentation isn’t here because they take it everywhere with them to practice. It takes hard work and perseverance. Any time they had downtime, they’d practice. They were constantly finding things to make it better.”
The pair said when they finished classroom work early, they would sometimes go out into the halls at Hayes to practice, occasionally getting strange looks from fellow students.
The students said their constant practicing and rehearsal paid off when they were running the presentation one last time 15 minutes before presenting to the judges and noticed a spelling mistake in their slideshow.
“We had to fix the presentation 15 minutes before we had to go on. … I was shaking trying to log into the WiFi,” Christopher said.
The students said that during the awards ceremony, their category was the last to be announced.
“We were very tired,” Christopher recalled Thursday. “The award ceremony went on for three hours, and we were the very last one.”
Artemus said she couldn’t contain her excitement when the announcement was made.
“We were so happy,” Artemus said. “When we got called for third, I squealed so loud.”
Kanning said she ran to the front to take a picture as soon as they were announced as third-place winners.
“I was right up at the front of the stage, excited, tearing up,” Kanning said.
The national conference will be held in Anaheim from April 26-30. Artemus, Christopher, and Kanning said they are looking forward to the trip.
“We’re so excited,” Christopher said. “I’m excited to meet people from all the different states. Now it’s actually happening.”
Artemus said she’s never been to California and is proud to have made it this far.
“It’s exciting to go to a new place,” she said. “As sophomores, going to nationals feels crazy.”
Kanning said she’s glad the students earned their trip.
“I’m really excited,” Kanning said. “They worked so hard to go to California. It’s a celebration of all the hard work that it takes to get there.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.