National FBLA high school conference to be hosted in Salt Lake City rescheduled to onlineJun 15, 2020 14h05 ● By Julie Slama
By Julie Slama | [email protected]
While many high school activities, from state debate to spring sports championships, were canceled in light of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, about 500 students nationwide had been looking forward to coming to Salt Lake City, this summer’s host of the national FBLA conference.
Originally scheduled June 29 through July 2, the Future Business Leaders of America’s academic competitive event and leadership development conference is considered to be the pinnacle of high school students’ experience who are preparing for careers in business.
According to the organization’s website, there are more than 230,000 members who are preparing for careers by becoming community-minded business leaders in a global society through relevant career preparation and leadership experiences and focuses on leadership development, academic competitions, educational programs, community service and more.
However, in a recent update, the organization’s board of directors decided to ensure the safety of student members and volunteer advisers and not hold the conference as scheduled in Salt Lake City. Instead, FBLA is developing an online event that will include a keynote presenter, leadership workshops, competitive events and the annual election of national officers.
It did not address if Salt Lake City will host the national conference in 2021, which was already scheduled for Anaheim to hold it. Chicago is slated as the host in 2022.
Students, like Hillcrest High senior Emily Zhang, may breathe a sigh of relief she will still get to participate, even though the conference will look different than what she imagined.
Zhang has taken part in FBLA competitions for four years, and last year, placed second at nationals in the health care administration competition, which was held in San Antonio.
This summer, her plan has been to compete in business ethics with classmate Annika Torres after qualifying in the event at the state competition.
“Nobody has committed at this point to nationals because everything is undetermined what will happen,” she said before the recent announcement that the competition and conference will be virtual. “We’re prepared. We have everything written, memorized. There’s nothing more we can do, except wait for the announcement of what is going to happen.”
Zhang was referring to the March 12 statement that said the organization’s leadership was working in collaboration with the states to develop alternative plans to best support student members in their involvement with conferences and competitive events.
Hillcrest, alone, had qualified about 35 students to compete at the national competitive which was to be held at the Salt Palace Convention Center, she said.
“We all were just preparing for nationals and then, the coronavirus spread, and we just hit pause on everything,” Zhang said.