Brunswick High’s FBLA chapter won first place at the recent region competition, hosted for the first time in several years at the school.

Brunswick High School’s chapter of the Future Business Leaders of America made the best of their home turf advantage during a recent region competition and earned first place in the contest.

Brunswick High hosted the Region Leadership Conference on Jan. 30. Erica Veal, one of the chapter’s advisors, said the competition had not been held at Brunswick High for several years prior.

Twenty-eight schools came to this year’s event, and Needwood Middle School’s team also took part in the competition.

Nearly 30 business leaders from the local community volunteered to serve as judges for nine performance events.

“They came from all areas of the community,” Veal said. “We had some from Rich’s, we had several CPAs from the community, resource managers.”

More than 40 members of Brunswick High’s staff and administration also volunteered to help run the event, which took over the school for an afternoon.

Brunswick High’s FBLA chapter won the competition last year as well. This year, 74 members received “Top 10” recognition. Thirty-five competitors will advance from region to the state contest in March in Atlanta. All total, about 50 students from Brunswick High will compete at state, Veal said, as some will participate in contests that begin at the state level.

“Together we got the trophy back, so of course I’m proud,” said Abigail Williams, president of the FBLA chapter at Brunswick High. Williams earned first place in one of the public speaking competitions and will advance to the state contest.

She had to prepare a speech to give in front of the judges, and she said a speech class offered at Brunswick High prepared her well for the event.

“I feel like that prepared me a lot,” said Williams, a junior.

Joshua Anderson, a sophomore, also won first place in the other public speaking competition. In addition, he earned fourth place in the introduction to business communications contest, and he’ll advance to state in both competitions.

“It definitely took away a lot of our nerves because we were on our home turf,” he said.

To prepare for his speech, Anderson watched multiple well-known speeches and worked to find common elements that made the speeches successful.

Each one, he said, had a personal touch that connected the audience to the speaker’s message, so he did the same with his own speech.

“I have Asperger’s syndrome, so I spoke about being diagnosed with that and how a lot of my doctors didn’t think that I would do much in life,” he said. “… So I talked about how I didn’t let that stop me and how every single time I went out in public I made sure to talk to people and make progress. And then now here I am in FBLA speaking.”

Cora Ailiff, a junior, said she felt more comfortable at this competition because she was familiar with the school’s layout. She won second place in both client services and entrepreneurship competitions and will advance to state.

The whole team worked hard for their success, she said.

“One of the best parts of FBLA is the fact that it teaches you self confidence, because I used to be really shy and sit in the back of the classroom and not say anything,” Ailiff said. “But now I’m not afraid to speak in front of large crowds.”

Spotlight on Schools appears Thursdays. Contact Lauren McDonald at or at 265-8320, ext. 322 to suggest a topic for a column.

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