BPA succeeds despite COVID changes


Photo courtesy of John Sabol

Back in 2017-2018, the BPA Regional team posed outside the competition venue. This year, the competition was totally virtual.

Flint Frohman, Editor

The Business Professionals of America (BPA) competed in state this year, and some are even headed to nationals.

Students at BSM who competed did well at state in a variety of events, “We compete against some schools in our region. We compete against––I want to say [sic]––5-6-7 schools, and if you are one of the top students or teams at the regional level … you go on to the next level in individual or team event. We were one of the top teams in podcast, production team, and then we had some individual students make it to state in entrepreneurship, and accounting, and business law, and I think personal financial management as well,” Sabol said.

Everything shifted to online due to COVID-19 this year, and it represented a very big change from the traditional way of doing BPA, where attendees would meet at a hotel in person. “This year it was all remote, and so students were creating videos and recorded zoom calls, and all sorts of alternative ways of getting everything still done. And all the tests, instead of being written tests, were done using an online program from home or wherever else. So it was a very different experience than what students have had in the past,” Sabol said.

While it was difficult, this change also presented students with a way to gain skills needed in a changing world. “Increasingly people are doing a lot more zooming and zoom meetings and zoom interviews, so it’s a good skillset to have,” Sabol said.

While it COVID presented new challenges due to the new remote format, it also presented opportunities students would not have previously had. “This year the award ceremony was just a YouTube video […] compared to previous years it was like night and day, not as exciting; it was all Zoom and videos and [sic] home. But that also makes it a little easier to be able to do it. In the past if you make it to nationals, and historically we’d be flying out to wherever nationals happen to be and it changes year to year. In the past, most of the time when students have gotten to that point they have chosen not to go to nationals because it costs a lot of money and you gotta fly, and all that stuff. And so this year, because it is remote, it does kind of make it a lot more accessible and this year we will participate in nationals where traditionally we have not,” Sabol said.

Students in BPA compete in a wide variety of competitions, varying between the individual and team level. “It’s an organization where we compete against other schools in a wide variety of business-related competitions. What we do at BSM is students who sign up for BPA will get to choose which events they want to compete in. And so some of the events are test based, and so you basically go in and you take a test, and that is how you compete,” Mr. John Sabol, BSM business teacher and BPA advisor.

One of the forms of competition is testing, similar to what is done in Sabol’s business classes. “Some of the events that fall under test based events are things like accounting, business law, personal financial management. So those are the ones students show a lot of interest in, I think banking and finance is another one, so if you’re interested in personal financial management or you took accounting you could pretty easily join BPA. You basically just like you prepare for a test, you take the test, and it’s really easy to be part of BPA and compete in those tested events,” Sabol said.

Another section is judged events. These involve groups or individuals presenting projects or actions to a judge. “For the judged events you prepare something, or you’re presented with a scenario, and then you have to put together some sort of solution or recommendation based on that particular situation. So there are events like human resource management, where there is some sort of issue with an employee; like a hypothetical issue, and you have to (as a human resource manager) come up with what you think is the most appropriate action for the business to take with that situation that came up,” Sabol said.

One of the judged segments is entrepreneurship, where students organize business plans that could relate to real-life situations. “A different example would be the entrepreneurship competition, where you write a business plan. So you basically come up with the entire idea of how a business would run, and then you write up a business plan, and then on the competition day you go in and you present your business to a panel of judges. We’ve had in the past; we’ve had students you know [sic] create a business plan and … for some of these business plans they’re actually real businesses students are running in high school, or even beyond high school they want to run it in college or as a career,” Sabol said.