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Forsyth students among best at state middle school business conference
2016-10-13 19.57

Students from three Forsyth County middle schools recently took home accolades after competing in the Georgia Future Business Leaders of America, or FBLA, middle level state leadership competition.

Georgia FBLA, an affiliate of Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda Inc., is a nonprofit “committed to preparing today’s students for success in business leadership.”

Teams from South Forsyth, Riverwatch and Little Mill middle schools competed.

Suzy Ruckert, Riverwatch’s FBLA advisor, said she was especially proud the school was named chapter sweepstakes champion – an award where judges take competition points from regional events and at the state level and denote a sweepstakes winner.

“Meaning we received the most top 10 finishers in the state,” she said. “But what’s more impressive is only one other school has won that award since [the competition] began in 2011 – Brantley County has won that the last 5 years.

“I didn’t even know this trophy existed, but of course I didn’t want to tell the people from Brantley County that.”

Each year, Georgia FLBA holds the competition for middle school students who do well at the regional competition, giving them the opportunity to compete at a statewide level.

The two winners of the Feb. 28 conference, which was held in Perry, Georgia, are recognized by the national office.

Ruckert said the school’s FBLA chapter has taken off, despite it only being the second year Riverwatch has offered the organization.

“We grew really quickly,” Ruckert said. “We were awarded the largest middle school chapter in Georgia, with 126 members. I’m amazed with how much participation and involvement we have had in just two short years.”

Of the 23 Riverwatch students who attended the competition, 18 received top 10 awards, with the school bringing in a total of 25 awards – some students brought home more than one.

South also took home a number of awards, with 10 students winning top 10 awards. It also won third place in the sweepstakes competition.
This was Little Mill’s first year competing – one student attended.

Ruckert said while high school FBLA chapters may have more members than the middle levels, she thinks it is just as important to offer the organization in the lower grades.

“It provides kids with not only business concepts but gives them leadership opportunities,” she said. “It gives some students who may not excel in other areas [an area] to excel in or to hold leadership roles, which will help them in the future.

“We have students like [sixth-grader Dharshan Rajan] who won second place in impromptu speaking. He had two minutes to prepare, and I was impressed with his poise and performance, especially competing against seventh and eighth graders.”

Ruckert said she already has some eighth graders thinking about taking on FBLA leadership roles when they get to high school.

“[FBLA] develops a more well-rounded student and exposes them to those skills and concepts to give them a head start to their high school experience,” she said. “Some students are already thinking about leadership roles and they’re going into high school with that exposure to the organization.”