High School BPA students excel at National Leadership Conference


The Business Professionals of America chapter at Switzerland County High School saw three of its students qualify to compete at the National Leadership Conference, held recently in Orlando, Florida.

While at the conference, the students were able to partake in various events and educational opportunities: Garrett Demaree participated in the Advanced Spreadsheet competition; Calleigh Powell competed in Prepared Speech and Extemporaneous Speech; and Summer Dickerson earned her Ambassador Torch Award and volunteered her time as an intern while at the conference.

Calleigh Powell had an unforgettable National Leadership Conference, as she made the stage for Prepared Speech.

This all started when she made finals, which are the top 12 students in prepared speech in the nation. In order to make it on stage, you have to be in the top 10 in the nation in that event. Calleigh placed fourth out of 46 students at the National Leadership Conference in one of the most competitive events.

Calleigh didn’t make finals for extemporaneous speech, but she did end up placing 19th out of 46 competitors.

Although Garrett did not make the stage in his event, he did have a strong showing by taking the Merit Scholar exam. The merit scholar exam tests one’s knowledge of everything BPA. Garrett’s score on the exam placed him 16th out of 651 students and advisors.


In addition to the competitive events, the high school chapter also came home with the Chapter Activities Award of Excellence.

This is one of the top honors that a BPA chapter can receive and it is the culmination of all of the hard work that the students have completed through their service projects for the year.

Also, Summer Dickerson and MacKenzie Covington – who did not attend the NLC – were awarded the Ambassador Torch Award. In order to earn this, a student must earn 70 points in each of the seven categories of Torch. This is a huge achievement as it shows that the students are not just active in the chapter, but they are active in the school and community.

The students who competed at the NLC were able to compete against the best in the nation.

“This is a great experience to see what others are capable of,” BPA advisor Kodi Thayer said. “Sometimes, students need a reminder that there are others out there that they will be competing against in college and the workforce that are just as capable as them, or that they are just as capable as the others. This is a great way for the students to realize just how capable that they are. Being able to compete in the NLC is a great confidence booster, because not many people are able to say that they are competing against the best in the nation.”

The students and the BPA organization want to thank everyone that has supported them and their trip to the National Leadership Conference.