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Fifth consecutive state championship for Tualatin High School FBLA

Tualatin High School's business leaders have been hard at work, and this month brought home the club's 10th win in 14 years


TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Colette Petersen, 18, who is a Tualatin High senior and the marketing director for the school's FBLA, holds the championship trophy that her team recently won on the state-wide competition. From her left pictured clockwise is; Mallory Reser, Malachi Seib, Elijah Raffo, FBLA advisor Jim McCaffrey, Erin Brohoski and Mckenzie Morrow.For the fifth year in a row, Tualatin High School's Future Business Leaders of America have brought home a Class 6A state championship. And this year's win marks 10 championships for the club over the last 14 years.

“Their mantra early on in the year to their membership was 'Be a part of something bigger than yourself,' as it relates to community service and education and competition,” said business teacher and FBLA advisor Jim McCaffrey. “And this officer team did not want to be the team that broke the streak, either. So there was a little fear.”

Maybe fear had a little bit to do with it, but it also had a lot to do with long hours and hard work preparing for the state competition, held April 9-11 in Portland. With 41 of TuHS's FBLA members competing, they were able to clinch the coveted top spot yet again.

When asked how they did it, senior and FBLA president Mackenzie Morrow pointed to a combination of hard work, and caffeine.

“On Friday, I literally had four cups of coffee and about three Red Bulls,” she said.

But beyond the weekend of competition, the students work all year to make sure they know their stuff, whether it's through their business classes or by spending time before school to take practice tests. For these dedicated students, being a part of the business program at TuHS is not something to be taken lightly.

“I think that it just opens so many new opportunities and perspectives,” said Erin Brohoski, a senior and FBLA community service officer. “I thought that the business world was all kicks and giggles, and everybody was friends and it was great. It's totally not like that. It's a lot of stress and a lot of nerves. I wouldn't have had the opportunity to actually get to know what it's like if it wasn't for FBLA.”

But for Brohoski, and for most of these students, understanding that business endeavors can be stressful and nerve-wracking doesn't make them want to change paths — it makes them want to learn even more.

“I started out freshman year, McCaffrey was my teacher and I didn't really know anything about business,” said Morrow. “Honestly, I'm addicted now. I love business. FBLA has been my No. 1 passion since freshman year. Just all the opportunities it's opened up for me — it's taught me so many different things, so many different skills. I've met a lot of people and I've just really built some relationships that will last a long time.”

Though helping win so many state championships is a legacy these students are happy to pass on, what they learned to get there in the first place seem to be the biggest takeaway. And without the robust variety of business classes offered at TuHS, it's possible their victories might never have come to fruition. As McCaffrey and the students said, these wins didn't happen overnight — they happened because of years of learning and growth.

“There's a lot that goes into it, and if feels like everything's been so worthwhile,” said senior and director of fundraising Elijah Raffo, who said he's taken all the business classes offered at TuHS. “I think business is really interesting, because at any career you do, you're going to have to use it at some level … be it managing your own personal finance or knowing within a company how products move.”

And yet it isn't just the business classes that have led the students to succeed at state, which has competitions ranging from written tests to PowerPoint presentations created under strict time restraints.

“They take what they learn in the building everywhere and then they apply it there,” McCaffrey said. “They take their English skills. They take their math skills. They take their presentation skills. It all comes together and blends.”

Even with all of their first-place finishes, however, the TuHS FBLA officers and advisor are hesitant to brag about their success. Instead, the bragging falls to the administrators who get to watch it all happen.

“I think both groups, the teachers and the students, are holding themselves a little bit short. You can talk about five years, right? But you look at the legacy that it has done,” said associate principal in charge of curriculum Jarvis Gomes. “It's all the little minutia that are happening that you don't see — you just see the big banner on the wall. But it's all the hard work and time and energy that these guys … put in that's amazing.”

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