*This story first appeared in The Budget’s May 23, 2018, Local Edition.
By Beverly Keller
For the students in Amy Stauffer McNutt’s Buckeye Business Academy East Holmes Satellite class, the past few months have been a whirlwind. It began in New Philadelphia at Kent State Tuscarawas in January and ended in Dallas, Texas, with the Parli-Pro team bringing home fifth place in the nation honors back to Berlin from the Business Professionals of America National Leadership Conference.
After the Regional Competition, scores were tallied up, an awards ceremony was held in February. At that event, the group of students did well. “Every single student in business class placed in the top six in at least one of their chosen events,” Stauffer McNutt explained. “We had quite a few state qualifiers as well.”
With their sights set on State, the group sought out leaders from the community and buckled down to study hard, hone their skills and excel. They held fundraisers to cover their expenses for the trip to Columbus. They held their third installment of a basketball tourney fundraiser at United Dayspring Mennonite Church. They also made hundreds of pizzas with the assistance of Park Street Pizza. The group also sponsored a volleyball tournament the first weekend in May. Stauffer McNutt praised the students for their hard work. “The business students worked out the logistics of the day, practiced customer service and demonstrated responsibility,” she shared. “These tournaments are fundraisers for our BPA Chapter, of course, but the benefits extend beyond mere finances. Teamwork makes the dream work, as they say.”
Off to State, the students went in March. The Parli-Pro team placed first in the State of Ohio for the second year in a row. For those unfamiliar with Parli-Pro, short for Parliamentary Procedure, it is the art of running a meeting according to Robert’s Rules of Order. It is following the structure for making a motion and a counter-motion and recognizing who has the floor to speak.
The competition is based on an agenda given to students just a few minutes before the event. Students are allowed one note card as part of their preparation and must work out the basics of who will say what before it is their turn to present. This quick turnaround allows them to show off their skills in terms of arguments and counters but also their ability to improvise and act. “It is not supposed to look scripted,” Stauffer McNutt explained at a showcase of the team’s skills for parents and the community just days before they left for Dallas last month. “They know the rules well and have been practicing together with agendas from past years. In fact, they got a brand new agenda from past members of the team to practice with today. It has been great to have these students come back with their experience from Nationals to help coach this group.”
In addition to the Parli-Pro team group traveling to Texas included members of the class who were looking to further themselves as part of the National Leadership Conference. During the 2015-16 school year, the local Business Professionals of America chapter earned just one Statesman Torch Award for accruing 50 points through various activities. This year, the local chapter added 10 names to the list by earning 70 points in leadership, knowledge, service, cooperation, love, hope, faith, friendship and patriotism. There were a total of 89 Ambassador recipients in Ohio and 92 in Michigan.
The whirlwind trip, opportunities to learn and explore impacted students in the class.
“I had an incredible time at the National Leadership Conference,” shared Mary Beth Mullet. “We practiced and studied for half the year to reach our goal. I was thrilled that we got into the top 10 and even more excited when I found out we got fifth place in the whole nation!”
Thomas Troyer noted the experience impacted him. “I had the thrilling experience of reaching our goal to make top 10 in Parliamentary Procedure,” he said. “It was amazing to see all our hard work and teamwork come together when we placed fifth.”
Micah Troyer agreed. “Having the opportunity to compete at NLC is an experience I will never forget,” he explained. “Placing top 10 was something that we worked towards all year, and it was super rewarding to see all of our hard work pay off!”
“The best thing about National Leadership Conference this year was accomplishing the goals we had set by working together,” Josh Garber said. “Being president of the parliamentary procedure team this year definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone, but it was totally worth it. Not only did I learn how much we can accomplish with teamwork, I also gained valuable leadership and communication skills.”
“The BPA National Leadership Conference was an experience that I will never forget,” Anson Troyer shared. “Our team worked so hard the entire school year to get to the National event. When I found out we placed fifth, I knew every second we had practiced was worth it.”
“NLC was to me the culmination of months of preparation, and our dedication was well paid off in our few moments on the stage, knowing that we had done our best and reached the top,” Joshua Yoder explained.
For Treva Beachy, the experience was filled with lessons. “By being a member of the Parli-Pro Team, I have gained valuable knowledge that I will continue to use throughout my life,” she said. “One of the main things that I have learned was that teamwork is so important and you open a door to so many more possibilities when you work together. Being at NLC and getting to show people what our team has accomplished this year was an amazing experience.”
But, perhaps, Kerri Miller sums up the experience best. “I had an absolutely unforgettable experience at the National Leadership Conference with amazing people whom I hope I can still be friends with them in the years to come,” she shared. “It has truly been a gift to work with these great people on Parli-Pro for the last seven months. 2019 NLC- here we come!”
For Stauffer McNutt, the experience was also a game-changer. “This has never happened before,” she explained. “Yesterday, a first-year business student asked me if it would be alright if he took one of our Parli-Pro resource books home for the summer so he would be ready to be considered for next year’s competition team.”