As the Business Professionals of America regional conference neared, Marble Falls High School teacher and BPA sponsor Tucker Edwards searched for the right contests among a number of options for four boys in his program.
With two weeks to go before the January 18 event in College Station, Edwards settled on parliamentary procedures.
“We only started BPA at the high school about a year ago,” Edwards said. “We didn’t have any experience in it.”
In fact, the goal for Edwards, fellow advisor Susan Pennington, and the students in the program was to learn from the competition.
He wasn’t expecting what happened: The four boys earned a bid to the state conference.
The parliamentary procedures team consists of Mitchell Elwartowski, Rolando Bueno, Jon Burk, and Bryson Metzgar. Metzgar also took first place in the digital publishing contest, while Elwartowski won the business law competition.
Two other students in the program, Anna Perez and Annabel Cardenas, earned third in the small business competition and are state alternates.
“We’re like the Bad News Bears of the BPA,” laughed Edwards, referencing the 1976 movie in which a rag-tag youth baseball team stun their more put-together competition.
BPA student Burk agreed.
“We really didn’t know what we were doing,” he said. “We just wanted to learn something, get the experience.”
Edwards and Pennington will take nine of their students to the BPA State Leadership Conference in Dallas on March 4-7. They will be among about 3,200 delegates from across Texas, all participating in competitions and conference sessions.
Business Professionals of America is a national secondary and post-secondary organization that helps students apply what they learn in class through competitions and other events.
Marble Falls High School had tried to start a campus BPA group in the past, but things did not work out until a year ago, when Edwards stepped away from coaching duties to focus on teaching his business and entrepreneurship classes. The move gave him time to get the BPA program up and running with the help of Pennington.
And now, on to state.
The parliamentary procedures competition is basically running a business meeting under Robert’s Rules of Orders. It usually requires a team of eight. In preparation for their individual roles, Elwartowski, Bueno, Burk, and Metzgar studied the rule book and looked at various aspects of the competition.
Burk said each person has a different place at the table, including president, vice president, and treasurer.
With only four competing, it meant each team member had to learn at least two roles.
At regionals, the judges gave each team 15 minutes to prepare. Teams received a business meeting agenda with three items. Each part of the meeting is judged, including where students sit at the table and how they discuss agenda items.
During the 15 minutes prior to the contest, the boys decided to change things up.
“On the day of the contest, we switched roles,” Burk said. “In that fifteen minutes, we basically had to learn different roles. The contests, they’re a lot of moving parts in there, so it’s not something easy to do.”
But it worked.
Edwards attributed the entire BPA team’s success to how well they all bonded. He said that if someone had observed his students during the conference, they would have surmised the youths had been working side by side for several years in preparation for the contests.
“That goes to the specialness of this group,” Edwards said.
At the state meet, Edwards and Pennington will complete the eight-member parliamentary procedures team with Cardenas, Perez, Peyton Hodge, and Sanlyn Bolin.
Now, as Burk noted, nobody will be pulling double duty.