By Johnny Jackson
Henry County High School's Future Business Leaders of America chapter will play host this month to the FBLA's Region 13 Leadership Conference, competing against 280 FBLA members from across the five-county region in leadership competitions from public speaking to interviewing to business model presentations.
Region 13 includes Henry, Clayton, Fayette, Butts and Spalding counties.
"Conferences have motivational speakers that help give us a perspective on what it is to be a leader," said Henry County High School junior Alexander Levy, the reporter for Region 13. "FBLA shows us the different aspects of becoming a business leader."
Levy wants to one day become a corporate lawyer, and said he took the first steps toward his future career by joining the FBLA. "FBLA gives you a head start on what you will be doing in the future," he said. "It made me love what I want to do more."
Aisha Bloxson, the FBLA's Regional 13 president and also a junior at Henry County High, wants to study finance in college and become financial consultant.
"I joined because it was related to what I wanted to do," Bloxson said.
Fellow FBLA member Manuel Flores, the region's secretary, wants to pursue work in the computer software industry, designing and selling software.
"I just want to have my own company," said Flores, a senior at Henry County High.
The state chapter of FBLA is 20,000 members strong, the largest FBLA chapter of the 250,000-member FBLA-Phi Beta Lambda Inc. national organization.
Leaders of Henry County High's chapter know the business climate is shaky now, but are optimistic about the future. "I think we're just going to have to reform - cutback on spending and create new industry," Bloxson said.
"I say it's just a matter of time until everybody gets back on their feet," said Levy. "I'm pretty sure everything will come back."
Flores said entrepreneurship is key to creating new industry and believes some good may come from the recession. "Hopefully, it's a new lifestyle change," he said.
Flores, Bloxson, and Levy are preparing to take part in a group business model presentation next week at the conference to showcase their research and study of various aspects of business.
"I've grown in my leadership skills a lot with FBLA," Flores said. "I'm more confident, and I'm doing better with my grades."
The chapter of the FBLA at Henry County High had previously been dormant for about a decade. FBLA Region 13 advisor Regina Daigre re-charged the Henry County High group, and helped it become perhaps the most active FBLA chapter in the school's history.
"I think it's critical that we have student organizations that link the curriculum to real-life experiences," said Daigre, who also teaches business, accounting and computing at the school.
The school's principal, Andy Giddens, echoed Daigre's sentiments.
"We're just real proud of the job that those kids do and of the efforts of Ms. Daigre," Giddens said. "Any time you're learning about business, you're learning about the real world. In these hard economic times, I hope these students are learning that you've got to put in the effort."
The annual FBLA Region 13 Leadership Conference is the culmination and showcase of what FBLA members have learned over the course of the school year. The region-wide conference will be from 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Henry County High.