By Stefanie Jackson – Nandua High School’s Future Business Leaders of America is no longer just a club for aspiring entrepreneurs, business managers, and administrators to do activities together like community service – they are learning how to start and run their own business that will serve other clubs and organizations in their school.
Participation in community service and business “makes them understand what it’s like to be a citizen” and provides purposeful and practical “project-based instruction” in career areas of interest, said Principal George Parker.
With his support, FBLA acquired new equipment and started a business creating personalized sweatshirts. They also plan to offer T-shirts, hats, coffee mugs, and other items.
Teachers Faith Sturgis and Erica Quintana, who are in charge of FBLA along with teacher Beth Hart, designed the first batch of sweatshirts, ordered by the Nandua High School band.
With each new order that comes in, students will take turns learning every aspect of the business, including designing products, operating equipment, and writing invoices.
Parker purchased a die-cutting machine that cuts designs from sheets of vinyl and a heat press that adheres the designs to clothing and other materials. The die-cutting kit included computer software for creating custom designs.
Parker gave the club members a room across the hall from Sturgis’ classroom, complete with their own computer, for storing their equipment and working on orders.
The profits will support FBLA activities such as state competitions. Nandua High School FBLA members compete in the Tidewater region, and every year, any student who wins first or second place is eligible to advance to the state finals.
FBLA pays for a student’s travel expenses such as hotel accommodations. There are about 50 different categories in which a student can compete, including resumés, interviews, speeches, personal finance, accounting, and spreadsheets.
Students can learn Excel spreadsheets and other popular Microsoft programs at school. Training in those programs is available through career and technical education (CTE) courses.
CTE courses aren’t just for students who decide to pass on college and go straight into the workforce after high school. Every student is required by the Virginia Department of Education to earn at least one CTE certification before graduation.
A student who earns three or more CTE certifications receives a gold seal on his or her diploma.
Select CTE courses are available through the Accomack school division’s Badger Technical Center, which is not a separate campus but is represented by specific CTE courses given at Nandua and Arcadia High School.
Nandua offers the Badger school’s HVAC, building and trades, and nursing courses.
Arcadia offers the Badger school’s automotive, computer systems, and cosmetology courses.
The CTE courses are offered to all Accomack public high school students, no matter which school they attend.
For example, a Nandua student who wants to take an automotive course at Arcadia will be bused there for that class. Chincoteague High School students may also participate in the CTE program.
There are additional courses, such as home economics, that do not belong to the Badger Technical Center program but provide career and technical certification required for graduation.
In addition to its new business venture, FBLA will continue its community service. Past activities have included donating Christmas gifts to children in need through local angel trees, Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes, and Toys for Tots.
FBLA members have also served as Salvation Army bell ringers and participated in food drives.
FBLA is organizing a new fundraiser this year, Christmas at Nandua, which will be open to Accomack elementary school students in pre-K to fifth grade.
Christmas at Nandua will be Saturday, Dec. 14, 9 a.m. to noon, at Nandua High School. Admission will be $5 per child and will include arts and crafts, games, and a visit by Santa Claus.