Casen Haskell earns first place nationally at BPA Leadership Conference
Switzerland County Middle School eighth grader Casen Haskell has a talent for math.
That natural gift serves him well in a variety of areas — and it served him very well last month at the Business Professionals of America National Leadership Conference in Los Angeles, California, were he became one of only six BPA students from Indiana to earn a first place award nationally.
Casen earned first place in the Middle School category for Financial Literacy.
“There’s three different levels,” Casen said of the entire BPA conference competitions. “There’s Middle, Secondary, and Post Secondary levels. I competed against all middle schoolers.”
Explaining what ‘financial literacy’ actually involves takes some time, as Casen explained all of the different aspects that the category encompassed at both the state and national levels.
“It’s anything financial,” he said. “We dealt with deposits. I had to figure out all types of things. There’s a multiple choice question part. Then there’s a check register, a check, and a deposit slip. When I compete, I’m basically taking all of my knowledge that I know of, and putting it into all of those different types of questions.”
Casen said that there were about 50 questions on the test.
In terms of the actual questions, Casen said that they were wide ranging, moving from more broad questions such as ‘define interest rate’ or down to specific things such as ‘find the compound interest of something using a specific equation’.
He said that Middle School does not have regional competitions, so students move on to the state conference and testing. He finished second in financial literacy at the state level, qualifying him to move on to the nationals.
Casen estimated that there were 30 other middle schoolers he competed against at the state level; with him facing off with 20 other students from all around the country in Los Angeles.
The testing center was a large, multipurpose facility within the conference center, and Casen said students from different levels were being tested on different categories at the same time.
“It was this huge ballroom, with multiple things going on at the same time,” he said. “They had multiple tables set up with computers. You went in and took your test for an hour. There were different sections with signs pointing people to the different testing areas.”
The Switzerland County BPA group left for Los Angeles on Tuesday, April 25th; with Casen’s testing happening on Friday.
“There were no finals,” he said of the tests. “You don’t even know if you made the top 10 or not until you get to the awards ceremony, which was a big old room with a whole bunch of people are sitting and waiting to see if they made it on the stage. That didn’t even qualify you to win, you didn’t even know if you were going to be on stage at all. You look up there and you see your name and you go up on the stage. I was sitting with everyone from Switzerland County and also everyone from Indiana.”
Seeing his name on the big screen, Casen said that he walked up on the stage with the other members of the top 10 in his category.
“They started from lowest to highest, so you really didn’t know until that last second,” Casen said. “As soon as I got there, I was like, ‘I really don’t feel like I did that well’, but I felt like it wasn’t too bad. So I was like, ‘Okay, I’m probably not going to get on stage, but I’ll have next year — but as soon as they called my name and I got onstage, I was already hyped — I mean, super excited.”
The announcers first announced the third place finisher from the top ten standing on the stage; and then they announced second place — and Casen still hadn’t heard his name.
“Getting on stage is also amazing,” he said. “But I feel like once I got on stage I was happy about that — but once they called my name, I was like ‘Oh my gosh, I did not expect that!’ It was very unexpected.”
They handed Casen a “massive plaque”, and then took him back stage along with the other two finalists for official pictures.
Along with his financial literacy; Casen also participated in extemporaneous speech in middle school. He talks about what an amazing opportunity he has been given; and he’s already looking forward to next year.
Casen is the son of Andy and Elyssa Haskell of Vevay.
Editor’s note: in last week’s article highlighting Aiden Furnish, the story cited that he was the first Switzerland County student to earn first place at the National Leadership Conference.
Garrett Demaree from Switzerland County won the national BPA competition in the field of spreadsheet applications.
Vevay Media Group apologizes for this oversight.