PHS FBLA members are Nationals bound

Wednesday, April 27, 2005
District II FBLA vice-president Brittni Sammons (left) presented Caleb Morris, Jonathan Morris and Austin McDaniel with their plaques for first place in the Website Development competition at the Arkansas State Leadership Conference in Little Rock. (Photo provided)

Three young men from the Piggott High School Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) chapter are bound for the National Leadership Conference on June 22-28 in Orlando, Fla.

Caleb Morris, Jonathan Morris and Austin McDaniel placed first in the state of Arkansas in the Website Development competition at the Arkansas State Leadership Conference in Little Rock on April 15 and 16. Previously, the trio placed first at the District II Spring Leadership Conference at Nettleton High School on Saturday, Feb. 26.

Competitors in the area were given the theme "Road to Your Success" and the topic, FBLA Chapter Annual Business Report, to work with. PHS FBLA sponsor Stacey Peters said, "That topic is really tough. It took a lot of time to plan the site's content - longer than designing the site..."

The site has went through many incarnations, at least five according to the talented team.

Software used in the creation of the award-winning website included Macromedia Studio MX Flash and Frontpage, which were purchased by the school.

Jonathan Morris, the son of Roger and Suzie Morris and Penny and Steve Hill, was the primary flash designer for the site. Austin McDaniel, the son of Roger and Cynthia McDaniel, developed the scrapbook and Caleb Morris, the son of Teresa Morris and Stan Morris, developed most of the graphics and wrote the text for the site. Although, Caleb says credit for the quality of the writing on the site relies on a good editor, Mrs. Regina Crittenden.

"Without Mrs. Crittenden our site would have been grammatically wrong - we couldn't have done all the writing without her proofing and constantly making corrections," Caleb said.

The only one of the three, who are members of the same family, who was confident they would win first place at state was Austin. The others weren't so sure. "We're going for top 10 at Nationals," Austin said. "It's going to be some pretty stiff competition," Caleb said.

He continued by explaining that as part of the journey to Nationals, the team will have to prepare an oral presentation to justify the tools used in creating the site and explain how it was developed. They will also have the opportunity to access their site in front of the judges using a laptop and a projector.

Their reaction to winning state was one of great excitement, because with that honor comes the opportunity to attend the National Conference this summer. "We jumped up and down like little girls," Caleb said with a smile. Unfortunately, due to a program glitch - the Website Development category was left off the script for the awards ceremony at state, which had a professional announcer. The winners were simply mentioned at the end of the ceremony and told they could come backstage to pick up their awards. Each member of the team was presented with a plaque, a certificate and a keychain. Sponsor Peters also received a certificate.

"Austin and I went and bought suits the day after we won," Caleb said.

"Mrs. Peters always encouraged us and never let us settle for less than our full potential," Caleb said. He continued by saying she deserved their whole-hearted thanks for taking them to the various levels of competition and having the patience to put up with them.

Peters also had high praise for her students. "They are very dedicated, hardworking and talented individuals who work best as a team," she said. Peters said she and co-worker Vicky Johnson have joked that it will be hard for them to find a job, because they've never seen a job description looking for a team of three people.

"I've known they were confident the whole time, but I tried to play it down - trying not to get their hopes up," Peters said. "But after they won District, they knew they were going to Nationals - even though the State competition loomed."

Peters disputes that she had to encourage them to work on the site. She said the boys come into her classroom to work on the site at any free moment. She added that her fellow teachers have been really good about letting the team members come to work on the site when they finish their work in other classes.

While at Nationals, the students will take part in workshops that are geared towards the National Business Education Standards, which are business, career development, communications, finance, leadership and information technology.

"This assures that the workshops prepare the students for what awaits them after high school," she said.

The FBLA also believes in giving the students the opportunity to visit attractions in and around Orlando. The tours, Peters explained, are encouraged at the conference as a reward to those who have made it that far and to broaden the horizons of the students.

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