FBLA members advance to Nationals


Courtesy of Christopher King

We did it. Future Business Leaders of America members Webster, Houp, Balog advance to Nationals. The competition will occur during the week of June 26.

During the week of June 26, seniors Patryk Webster, Tyler Houp, Owen Balog and junior Warren Leberfinger will attend the National Future Business Leaders of America Competition Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The team has been working on a word game that is similar to a mix of Scrabble, Wordle and Tetris. 

Christopher King has advised Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) on and off for 10 years. He picked up the responsibility during his fourth year of teaching and did it for around six years. After six consecutive years, he felt the need to take a step back and asked Jesse Frailey to take over. He returned to his position four years ago and believes his experience of owning his own business involving rental properties creates a great opportunity for students to obtain helpful information.

“I wonder if my students feel like their education is an opportunity or a burden. I think in hindsight, you guys will understand what an opportunity you have but knowing how to be mature and knowing what opportunities you can give kids. I just want to give them as many opportunities as possible with as much energy as I can extend beyond my normal duties,” King said. 

According to King, having students advance to Nationals is the best feeling in the world. He feels it’s a great payoff for the small part he plays. Hearing Altoona’s name called up after some of the well-known schools with good reputations was a great experience according to King. 

“Just to see the ripples you can start and knowing they would have probably been successful with their company, but it’s a great feeling,” King said. 

Senior Patryk Webster joined FBLA because he and his friends wanted to do it together. According to Webster, he got better at live presentations, working with a team, equally dividing up work that needs to be done and setting goals and working towards them because of FBLA. 

“It really widens my range of the things that I like to look into because there’s so many different categories going to watch them all. It widens my range of the stuff that’s available out there,” Webster said. 

Webster believes that the most important thing is to trust the people on your team and that everything will get done as long as you work together.  

“Some of the biggest challenges were going up against schools that have devoted periods to FBLA and a lot more time. So we had to really use our time management skills to improve all we really needed to be put priorities,” Webster said. 

While Webster was excited about placing high enough to make it to Nationals, he was making sure he knew what he and his team were going up against. 

“I was pretty happy once we hit Nationals, but I didn’t want to just clock out. I wanted to pay attention to who got what places because we had known about the other competitors,” Webster said. 

Senior Tyler Houp didn’t originally plan on joining FBLA because he thought the entire club was focused on business, but when he overheard one of his classmates talking about the club and the different topics it offered, he decided to join. 

“The public speaking skills combined with the creation of a whole game have helped me prepare for my future career in software engineering by making me more confident when presenting and giving me more experience with coding as well as a completed project to put on my resume,” Houp said. 

Houp was a finalist last year, but making it to finals with his friends as part of his team made it special to him. 

“The biggest challenges of FBLA have always been the start of our projects. This year we found it very difficult to come up with a unique idea for our game. Once we eventually landed on an idea that we liked, it was very easy to develop it from there,” Houp said. 

Senior Owen Balog has grown better with time management and group work through FBLA. Balog and Webster are currently working on music for the game to prepare for Nationals. 

“Just seeing how our original ideas ended up shaping our game and seeing where we started to where we’re at right now is a very rewarding experience,” Balog said. 

King, Webster, Houp, and Balog all strongly encourage people to join. According to King, it’s a great way to expand the network of people in someone’s knowledge and skill sets, and it looks good on college applications. 

“It’s an awesome opportunity, and I would definitely push for people to try it. Even if you don’t think you’d be better than the category, there’s a category for everybody,” Webster said.