In its first year, the West Middle School chapter of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) had 12 students place at the State Leadership Conference, held in Chattanooga March 11 through 13. In front from left are Shelbie Penny, Cory Gentry Jr., Jae’Kori Noon, Abigail Nelson, Amariah Worley and Ava Malone. In back are faculty sponsor Franklin Cammack, Lance Thompson, Avery McLean, Angelina Robertson, Kayleon Keith, Brady Welch and West Middle School Principal Cindy Herrera.

Being in its first year hasn’t stopped the members of the West Middle School chapter of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) from taking home top honors and qualifying for nationals, school officials have announced.

According to Franklin Cammack, the club advisor and a teacher at West, this was the first time that West Middle School participated in a state conference, as the club is brand-new organization at the school.

Cammack, who was hired for this school year last summer, asked Principal Cindy Herrera if he could start the club at West as soon as he was brought on at the school, as he had participated with the club in his previous teaching assignments.

The State Leadership Conference took place in Chattanooga from March 11 to 13. During the event, more than 1,500 students competed in numerous events and attended workshops centered around the theme of “Piecing Leadership Together,” according to Cammack.

Twelve Bobcats managed to place in the top three spots in several competitions, with three of those 12 managing to snag spots in FBLA National Leadership Conference, which will take place this summer in San Antonio, according to Cammack.

Third-place finishers include Amariah Worley in business etiquette; Abigail Nelson in introduction to computer science and coding and Angelina Roberson in digital citizenship.

The second-place finishers were Ava Maloney in business etiquette; Kayleon Keith in introduction to computer science and coding; Brady Welch in elevator speech; Shelbie Penny in business math and financial literacy and the duo of Avery McLean and Cory Gentry Jr. in critical thinking.

The first-place winners, and those heading to San Antonio this summer, are Elijah Wood, for multimedia and website development; Jae’Kori Noon, for career exploration and Lance Thompson, for business math and financial literacy.

Cammack said he was “so proud” of his students for placing in their inaugural FBLA competitions.

“They didn’t have a firm idea of what they were walking into, but they have practiced and [prepared] for these events since January,” he said. “I never expected this type of success in our first year.”

Since the three students will be traveling to Texas for their national competition debuts, the students will be fundraising for the trip once they return from spring break, Cammack said.

Any business or individuals who would like to donate to the students’ travel fund should contact West Middle School at 931-454-2605.

Erin McCullough may be reached at emccullough@tullahomanews.com.