FBLA’s annual Gold Coast Section Conference goes virtual

Held through Zoom, participants had to work alone, have their cameras,mics on throughout all their events

Cover image of the competition guidelines for the 2020-2021 academic year. (Courtesy of FBLA website)

This year, in place of an in-person competition, the Future Business Leaders of America Gold Coast Section Conference was held virtually through Zoom and a third-party testing service.

The event began on Feb. 2 and lasted an entire week. In individual events, members of FBLA took tests and gave presentations on a variety of topics. 

“Each member competed in a maximum of 2 events, ranging from Health Care to Computer Science to Public Speaking to Economics… Gold Coast FBLA has 30 different events for people to choose from, most people did 2 different events,” senior and Oak Park FBLA co-president Krisha Thakur said. 

In regards to the objective tests, participants were required to have both their mics and cameras on at all times. According to senior and Oak Park FBLA co-president Beshane Bans, this led to minor issues with this mandate, but overall all the events appeared to have gone off without any major problems.

In order to prepare for the week’s events, most studied and practiced on their own but some “[FBLA members] prepared with practice tests, quizlets, [and talking] to those who had done well in certain events previously,” Thakur said. 

Bans believe that this year’s competition was relatively similar to last years, the major difference being that it was remote instead of in-person. He adds that the test and presentation formats and judging were also completely, if not mostly, on the same grading scale as previous years. 

Thakur, however, points to two major changes in this year’s events: group tests and the duration of the entire event. In previous years, those who participated in group tests would work collaboratively on one computer and submit a single exam. However, this year, all group participants took the tests separately and their final score was an average of all test scores. 

The conference also lasted an entire week this year whereas in previous years it was usually completed in a day. Bans attributes this to the judges ability “to proctor and judge all competitors from all events equally.”

The awards ceremony was held on Sat. Feb. 13 and it was there that Oak Park learned they scored second overall in sweepstakes. Thakur, junior Anusha Rao and sophomore Jasmine Liu were among the many students who did particularly well in their events and now qualify for the State Conference in April.

“I just hope that people don’t lose the connectivity that FBLA fosters. Through high school, FBLA has always been really fun for me… I get to spend time with friends, study together, and when anyone from Oak Park does well at the awards ceremony it’s so heartwarming to see everyone band together and cheer each other on,” Thakur said. “Given that it’s my senior year and I’m leaving next year, I hope that I can remind members that FBLA is really focused on community and connectivity, even if it isn’t as obvious this year with the pandemic.”