CCHS BPA members headed to national competition this weekend

This weekend, Culver Community High School's Business Professionals of America will continue a lengthy tradition of remarkable success when two students journey to the BPA national competition in Orlando, Florida.

CCHS business teacher and BPA faculty leader Gene Baker shared details of the journey to nationals with members of Culver's Kiwanis Club recently, including recollections of the seven students he helped guide to the national competition in Chicago last year.

"We've placed highly in the past and hopefully will do that again," he explained, referring to more than a decade of CCHS' BPA sending students to the nationals each year, an unusual accomplishment for a school its size and facing stiff competition from large school systems throughout the state.

Baker said the BPA program has increased this year from 24 to 38 members, who he said benefit from a wide array of skills for later life.

"Hopefully they will come back to our community after going to colleges," he said.

In all, 24 CCHS students advanced from regional competition to the state level in Indianpolis earlier this year. The two placing high enough to compete at nationals were junior Justin Croy, who will compete in the same category -- computer modeling -- as he did at last year's nationals (where he placed 11th in the nation; he placed fourth in state last year and second this year); and Janele VanDePutte, a sophomore who will compete in another computer-related area. She created a video, said Baker, which highlights next year's nationals competition, which earned her sixth place at the state competition.
Baker noted the students will have opportunities not only to compete but also take in some of the local offerings, such as tours, visits to Disney World, and the like. The national BPA organization will offer seminars for students in enhancing their professionalism at the event as well, including attire, conduct, college advice, and other areas "they would never learn without the BPA here, but also without community support."

The trip will conclude quite a very first year in BPA for VanDePutte, Baker added.

"It's exciting and not very common for someone who just joined BPA in their first year to get all the way to nationals."

He said VanDePutte did most of the video work on her school-issued iPad device, which judges said helped her place as highly as she did, since she lacked the "specialized equipment a lot of teh kids had for their productions. It's not all that easy. To get the music and graphics...was quite a feat."

Croy and VanDePutte will present in front of two judges for their first competition, with a call-back for second level if they place in the top 15, after which participants are ranked; those in the top ten are formally recognized at the event.

BPA students, Baker said, sold candles and jelly beans, held bake sales, and in some cases paid out of pocket towards the $6,000 to pay for their expenses prior to nationals. The cost to attend nationals is $4,200, and various community organizations added to the students' endeavors to achieve the goal, including the Kiwanis Club itself, whose president, Trent Bennett, presented Baker with a $750 check from the club.