West Middle School had five students receive national recognition during the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) National Leadership Conference that wrapped up earlier this month.
More than 12,000 students and academic advisers from 48 states gathered in Chicago for the leadership conference from June 29 to July 2. West Middle School had 15 students qualify for and participate in the National Leadership Conference based on their performances at the state competition. As a state, Tennesee FBLA totaled 11 placings in 97 events, with the West Middle School chapter accounting for five of those honors.
Edward Henry led the West Middle School competitors with a third-place finish in Career Exploration.
“Nationals was so awesome,” Henry said. “I was able to meet new people, have new experiences, and see and experience things unique to Chicago. There was a jolt of excitement when I was called to be on stage, and I was totally surprised when I was announced third.”
Thomas Anderson added a sixth-place performance for West Middle School as he was honored for his effort in Financial Literacy. Lillian Villamar notched an eighth-place effort in the Annual Chapter Activities Report. Jonah Rathjen Vallejos and Ellie Simpson also added 10th-place performances in their respective events. Rathjen Vallejos competed in Business Etiquette, while Simpson placed in Career Research.
“The excitement of the national conference is completely unmatched to anything else that I have done before,” Rathjen Vallejos said. “I was honored to be recognized and to represent my local Chapter. I could not be happier with my performance because I really didn’t care what place I got or even if I made it onto the national stage; just to be in Chicago with all of my friends in our Chapter was more of an award than anything else on the trip. I would like to thank my parents for their never-ending support, Mr. Cammack for all of his hard work through every step of our FBLA experience, and all the countless others who helped us on the way to the National Conference.”
Simpson added her excitement about placing at nationals. During her competition, Simpson qualified for the final round before finding out about her 10th-place effort on the last day of the conference.
“I was really just happy to be there in person at nationals,” Simpson said. “Finding out that I made finals was both exciting and stressful. You could feel how intense every competitor was when heading into that final round.”
At the end of the conference, West Middle School Adviser Franklin Cammack was elated with how his students performed.
“I’ve never had two different competitors place at a single Nationals, and I never thought I would have five,” said West Middle School Adviser Franklin Cammack. “I wish somebody was keeping up with overall TN FBLA statistics regarding placements because I think West would have been close to a state record. I know it is the best Middle-Level performance that Tennessee has had.”
Cammack was also recognized during the National Leadership Conference for his leadership. At the Tennessee FBLA Conference, Cammack was named the state’s FBLA Adviser of the Year.
“I have waited a long time to be on that stage at nationals,” Cammack said. “I am proud that I could represent Tullahoma and Tennessee during the national conference. For those who were curious, yes, I did wear my University of Tennessee orange suit. What a great conference it was for our West Middle School students. I want to especially thank the Tullahoma Educational Foundation For Excellence for the $10,000 grant awarded, which helped make this trip for our WMS FBLA students possible. Knowing we had those grant funds and the donation money from many of the businesses across Tullahoma made this whole thing a reality for our students.
West Middle School Principal Cindy Herrera added her excitement and praised Cammack for guiding West Middle School’s FBLA students.
“All of our FBLA students have done an incredible job from Regional FBLA competition to Nationals,” said West Middle School Principal Cindy Herrera. “West students were afforded this opportunity because of Franklin Cammack’s leadership and passion for all things pertaining to students, technology and FBLA. His leadership allowed West to send 15 students to nationals and translated to five placing at the National Leadership Conference. Not only did all of our students compete, but they had many memorable life experiences. These students have represented themselves, their families, school and Tullahoma City Schools to a high degree and I am proud of all of their accomplishments.”