Their business is winning

December 19th, 2016

By Kelly Lynch | KPC News - The Advance Leader

Ligonier -

Winning has almost become second nature to West Noble High School’s Business Professionals of America organization.

In its 10-year tenure at the school, the team annually has sent at least 70 percent of its participants to the state competition.

This year, 24 of the 26 students who competed at Saturday’s regional event will be heading to state in March to take on similarly sized schools for recognition in skills such as video production, desktop publishing, banking and finance, and interviewing.

“We do pretty well … Every year, we hear people say, ‘West Noble took it all,’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, we did,’” BPA adviser Teri Kruger said, smiling. “That makes me happy.”

The achievement is exceptional because students are responsible for their own success by deciding how much time and energy they put into the program, as the group doesn’t meet regularly due to conflicts in schedules.

Every student involved is taking part in athletics or the arts, and so they can’t find a time to meet collectively, Kruger said. Members receive updates and assistance electronically, with the option to meet individually with Kruger after school as competitions grow near.

But the club has continued to grow — from five students in its first year to now an average of about 30 members a year — and Kruger credits that involvement to its overall appeal. Students who take part vary in grade-point averages and career goals, and it teaches them practical skills for their future.

“Even if they don’t go into business, they learn leadership, organization, time management, communication,” Kruger said. “It just progresses. They get in for one reason and then end up staying for another … That’s the thing I think kids like is that they can always find something that they find interesting to do.”

Senior Araceli Flores joined BPA as a freshman and recently was named a Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship top 10 student. Kruger said Flores attributed her success in the scholarship interview process to competing in the club’s interview skills event.

Students gain the experience of interacting effectively with others face-to-face, rather than relying on technology to send information through text or email.

For example, this year’s regional competition saw West Noble’s small business management team present its solution to a simulated situation of how to increase applicants for a staffing resources company. Students in interview skills had to produce a résumé and cover letter, and take part in an interview to place in the competition.

While learning these skills and doing well at competitions are the ultimate goals, Kruger’s favorite part of the program is the students’ own realization of how well they’ve done when their award is announced and they break out in a smile.

“It gives them a confidence that they don’t gain in other situations. It gives them a little bit of seeing the real world,” Kruger said. “With this, a lot of them in judged events have to go up and introduce themselves and start a presentation without knowing that person. It’s intimidating for anyone, so I think they build that confidence and self-assurance that they can take no matter where they go.”

Heading into the state competition, the students will refine their projects and practice their presentations, and also save up money for the trip to Indianapolis, which will cost upward of $5,000 for all of them to participate.

Kruger has made a tradition of selling snacks out of her classroom to fund a large portion of the trip. Students can stop by to pick up a bag of popcorn, fruit snacks or a bottled water to support the group, but she’s also accepting donations from the community because any portion of the trip that isn’t covered by her food sales is divided for the students’ families to pay, which can be difficult for some.

For those interested in making a donation for the group’s trip to Indianapolis, contact Kruger at

Business Professionals of America state competition qualifiers:

Alejandro Barrientos, desktop publishing; Nicole Byers, intermediate word processing; Bianca Contreras, entrepreneurship, small business management team; Erick Contreras, broadcast news team; Justin Contreras, prepared speech, video production team; Steve Correa, banking and finance; Courtney Crossley, video production team, interview skills; Araceli Flores, personal financial management, video production team; Jazlyn Guerra, advanced interview, personal financial management; Cassidy Hicks, human resource management, administrative support team; Tanner Hicks, PC service and troubleshooting, computer network technology; Braeden Hillbish, administrative support team; Maddie Hillbish, extemporaneous speech, administrative support team; Leigha Keck, video production team; Riley Kruger, economic research team; Victor Lopez, desktop publishing; Uriel Macias, fundamental accounting, broadcast news team; Adrian Martinez, fundamental word processing, broadcast news team; Steven Murillo, advanced interview, small business management team; Jovany Puente, small business management team; Amelia Shull, economic research team; Karen Silva, human resource management; James Stech, legal office procedures, extemporaneous speech; Brayan Velazquez, small business management team.