Marion students head to national competitions

Staff writer

Two Marion High School students have qualified to participate in national competitions.

Lauren McLinden

Lauren McLinden, a high school senior, started thinking about competing in the Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America Students Taking Action with Recognition event program when it was assigned.

“The STAR program is pretty independent; it takes a lot of time outside of class to do and not a lot of students do it,” adviser Myrta Billings said. “That’s why I decided to have it as their final exam. They’ve put a lot of work into it and it’s good to see that it’s paid off.”

McLinden didn’t know what to expect at first, but said the project was made easier by choosing somebody that she knew already — Greg Bowers of Central National Bank. She said her family has been banking there for years, and that it was a rather comfortable experience.

“He saw I had welding on my resume; it was interest we shared and we were able to just talk,” she said.

From that interview, McLinden said she was able to get enough information to talk knowledgeably about banking and personal finance.

That, in combination with the public speaking experience she’s had in 4-H and FFA, settled her nerves and allowed her to enter the job interview contest room with confidence.

The contest took 30 minutes — 15 minutes for the judges to look over her portfolio and 15 minutes for the questioning. McLinden said it was a good learning experience, but said the only constructive criticism she received was to “beef up” her 18-page portfolio.

“There’s a lot more I could do,” she said as she flipped through her bright red notebook. “I think the limit is 27 pages, and I don’t have near that in mine. I’m going to work on it, so that it will be perfect just in case the national judges catch something that the state judges didn’t.”

McLinden said she was planning to go to the national conference this July in Nashville, Tenn. anyway because of district presidential duties — but said competing in the STAR event will make it more fun.

While she said she enjoyed competing, one of her favorite moments was surprising her adviser.

A few weeks before the competition, Myrta Billings handed an application to McLinded, telling her to recommend one of the Marion advisers for the District G Adviser of the Year award.

Still, Billings was shocked when she went to the competition and saw her name in a program to receive an award.

“I didn’t know it was coming,” Billings said. “She handed the application back to me and I never looked at it. I just put it in an envelope and sent it in.”

Billings said she is proud of McLinden and her involvement in FCCLA. While she is at the national competition, McLinden will have the opportunity to judge other students.

“It’s a good opportunity for her to learn communication and leadership skills,” Billings said.

Jennifer Fruechting

Jennifer Fruechting didn’t think to study for the state Future Business Leaders in America competition; she just wanted to learn what she didn’t know.

“There were a lot of kids there who practiced real hard beforehand,” she said. “I didn’t study at all. It was the first time Marion had gone — and I knew better than to hope for too much. Everything I put down on those tests came from a class I took last year.”

Fruechting completed four 80-question tests at the state contest which gauged her knowledge in different business subject areas, including economics and personal finance. She completed all well within the required time period — and was able to help time other tests.

At the end of the day, Fruechting said she didn’t want to sit around for the three-hour long awards ceremony, so the Marion contingency decided to head home.

It wasn’t until the following Monday that she found out that she placed third in personal finance, qualifying her to enter the national FBLA competition this June in Anaheim, Calif.

In preparation for the upcoming competition, Fruechting said she planned on doing nothing.

“I figure I shouldn’t psych myself out,” she said. “I went into the state competition thinking that I probably wasn’t going to go anywhere. So, I’m hoping that strategy works again — this time at the national level.”

Fruechting said there were some practice tests on the Internet she might take, but otherwise she is focusing on other things she can do while in California.

“We’re going to be there three days,” she said. “That’ll give me enough time to see some of the local sights, and soak in some of the local flavor. They give you time to go to places like Six Flags or go on bus tours. Unfortunately, the tour I wanted to take isn’t available at that time, so I might have to ask someone else to give it to me.”

She commented that her flight, hotel, and meals are all paid for; all she has to worry about is the on-the-ground expenses she might incur during the trip.

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