BPA competes in National Leadership Conference


Finn Nowacki

Sophomore Tarun Modekurty works during an April 28 BPA competition.

Finn Nowacki, Staff Writer

This week, students participating in BPA will be competing in their third and final round of competition of the year. By placing at regionals in December and state in March, the top competitors from the club were invited to participate in the National Leadership Conference (NLC) from April 26 to May 9.

In the past, NLC conferences were held in locations like Orlando, Anaheim and Dallas. However, the NLC was completely cancelled last year due to COVID-19, and this is the first year the competition will be virtual. BPA sponsor Brooks Bowers sees the competition as a way to boost participation in the club.

“We are extremely excited to still have the opportunity to compete, even if it is in an all-virtual format,” Bowers said. “This all-virtual format has allowed more of our students who qualified at state to participate since there is less of a time commitment, and it is much less expensive since no travel is involved. As many of our members take AP classes and/or are seniors, AP tests and prom are always potential conflicts that sometimes cause our students to pass on the opportunity. A record of 13 of our Center Grove students will be participating this year.”

BPA is generally divided into three categories: the Workplace Skills Assessment Program (WSAP), the Torch Awards and BPA Cares.

“The WSAP is definitely our primary focus as it is the competition piece of our program that allows students opportunities to apply what they are learning in their business and computing classes here at school,” Bowers said. “Torch Awards focus on leadership and character development by having students complete and log various activities to earn Torch Awards at the chapter, region, state, and national levels. The awards focus on activities in seven areas including leadership, service, cooperation, knowledge, friendship, patriotism, and love/hope/faith. BPA Cares is the civic/philanthropic component of BPA through which students have the opportunity to develop and implement different community service programs.”

The competitions are divided into subjects, including finance, business administration, management information systems, digital communication and design and management, marketing and communication. Each event has its own set of contests.

“Some competitions are judged events where students will present before judges with a Q&A section at the end where judges can ask questions,” Bowers said. “For some of the presentations, the topics and scenarios are provided in advance for students to work with and present their final presentation to the judges. Other presentations are done on the spot such as extemporaneous speech where you get your topic only 10 minutes before you present your speech to the judge. With so much variety, there is something for everybody.”

According to Bowers, this virtual format could end up having an interesting effect on both the competition itself and its participants.

“The all-virtual format and the extended timeframe will definitely make this year’s NLC interesting. When we are in-person, everything is jam-packed into five days and we are all on the same time zone, whereas the all-virtual format has spread to over two weeks and has to accommodate four different time zones,” Bowers said. “Since we are Eastern Standard Time, our competitions times are later in the day, which may or may not be a deterrent to our performance as students will have been awake for longer and gone through most of a normal school day prior to competing.”

Senior Vaibhava Potturu, having participated in BPA and competed in nationals in years past, has noticed COVID-related changes to practices and competitions.

“Hybrid scheduling made this year very different from years past: we had fewer meetings, we had to scatter our meetings from when people were actually coming to school with the hybrid schedule, so we had to have two meetings with the same content which was kind of annoying but we dealt with it,” Potturu said. “Our competitions have only been at the school and we haven’t been able to travel anywhere, which was kind of the fun part of doing BPA, the experience we got from the competitions, which is a critical part of the club.”

Sophomore Tarun Modekurty, who will be competing, has had experience in past BPA events but still feels nervous going into his first nationals competition.

“My freshman year, I competed in computer security and placed third in both regionals and state. This year I got first in regionals and third in state. I also got first in computer network technology, computer programming and IT fundamentals, but only placed in computer security at state, so that is all I will be participating in,” said Modekurty. “I feel a little nervous going into nationals for the first time, I have heard that the competition is very fierce.”

Senior Christina Monev also had the opportunity to attend Nationals this year. Due to her being both the Chapter and Region President, this granted her some other responsibilities both leading up to and at the competition.

“Being a region president is certainly a much larger time commitment than being the chapter president, a position that I also held this year. I had the privilege to work with students from across the state, and I felt that we were truly able to make a difference in the organization at the state level. My work on the SOLT (State Officer Leadership Team) was more indicative of a business team that works together in an actual company. Most of what happens in BPA in Indiana came directly from our work. For example, I was the chair of the scripts committee for our State Leadership Conference, so I was in charge of all of the scripts and speaking parts for the general sessions we hosted for all state members. At nationals this year, I served as a voting delegate for Indiana, alongside several other state officers.”

Even with all of the recent changes, Bowers is still hopeful going into the event.

“Each year we’ve had one or more students make the national stage with Top 10 finishes. I am hopeful we will have similar or greater success this year despite all the changes due to COVID.”