Portage High School placed second out of more than 200 schools in Future Business Leaders of America’s state competition in Green Bay and will send 19 students to the national competition in Texas.
Twenty-four of the 30 state competitors from Portage finished in the top eight in their respective categories Tuesday at the 65th Wisconsin FBLA State Leadership Conference, their combined success accounting for the school’s second-place finish overall.
Students needed to place in the top 4 in order to qualify for the national competition, which is June 24 to July 2 in San Antonio.
“I was totally blown away by their performance — they did amazingly well,” Portage FBLA adviser Jan Imhoff said. “To have that many students place in the top eight shows that our kids don’t stop working after the regional competition. They showed that making it to the state competition is not good enough.”
Standouts from the competition included seniors Hunter Warzecha and Emma Goldthorpe, who each qualified for nationals for the fourth consecutive year.
Only two other Portage students had ever qualified for nationals in all four years of high school, Imhoff said: Alexandria Harvey (Class of 2011) and Lien Weiss (Class of 2017).
In Green Bay, Warzecha placed first in the “Who’s Who in FBLA” category, which is awarded to the state’s most accomplished FBLA member.
It’s the second straight year that a Portage student earned the “Who’s Who” award at state, Imhoff said. Emma Shortreed, a 2018 graduate, won the award last year.
“It was a surprise, but a good surprise,” Warzecha said of the award. “I had never really considered it as a possibility.”
Warzecha, Goldthorpe and junior Hannah Ness, as a team, earned first place in Annual Business Report, while Warzecha and Goldthorpe formed teams of two in the categories of Business Plan, placing second, and in Community Service Project, placing fourth.
Their community service project, which took first place at the regional competition in DeForest in February, involved the FBLA chapter’s support for the Portage chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace, which builds beds for children. The students organized a “Family Winter Fun Day” fundraiser for SHP in January at their school, providing an afternoon of games, crafts and snacks for families with young children.
“We just think it was a great local cause and we wanted to give back to the community that has supported us in FBLA so much over the past four years,” Warzecha said.
During the 2018-19 school year, Portage FBLA students also rang bells at Christmastime for the Salvation Army and they’ve often volunteered for the school district’s weekend snack program that provides food for hungry elementary students.
In Green Bay, Portage FBLA finished in fifth place for Largest Chapter Membership with 109 total members.
“For a school our size, we really do have large membership,” Imhoff said. “It’s awesome.”
Year to year, Portage High School enrolls about 800 students and about 15 percent of them join FBLA on average.
Menomonee Falls High School took first place overall for their students’ combined performance in Green Bay but had sent more than 100 individual competitors to state, compared to Portage’s 30 state competitors, Imhoff said.
Portage FBLA took third place overall at last year’s state competition in La Crosse.