Student has designs on the future

Steamboat FBLA member headed to nationals in desktop publishing

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School might be out, but in a matter of days, Katie Matteo will be sitting down to a two-hour, multiple-choice test about software used for desktop publishing.

Granted, she'll be in Orlando, Fla., but the plane flight and downtime in the hotel will be spent studying.

Matteo, who will be a senior at Steamboat Springs High School in the fall, qualified for the Future Business Leaders of America National competition in desktop publishing. The competition takes place later this week.

FBLA gives students the chance to compete at the regional, state and national level in various business-related activities -- Web-site design, public speaking, entrepreneurship, accounting and marketing.

There are about 50 activities, and each state's top one or two competitors or teams in each activity go on to nationals.

"This is a huge opportunity that we're going to be taking," Matteo said.

"It's absolutely just huge," said Shirley Belz, a retiring teacher and Matteo's FBLA advisor. "It's one of those things that you won't forget."

Matteo and her teammate Devyn Riley took the practical test together for nationals, in which they had two hours to design a menu, business card and flier. Because Riley cannot make the trip to Orlando, Matteo will take the written exam alone.

SSHS does not have some of the software programs tested through the exam, but she's planning to give it her best shot.

Matteo began participating in FBLA two years ago when Belz recruited her.

"I said, 'You're really good at what you do -- why don't you give it a shot?'" Belz said. Belz cites Matteo's eye for design and attention to detail as some of her strengths when it comes to design. And Matteo always "takes it to another level," not being satisfied with something that's OK, but striving for something that is perfect, Belz said.

Matteo grew up enjoying art but not really exploring desktop publishing and graphic design until she took a class from Belz. But now, she said, she plans to study graphic design in college.

The first key to design, Matteo said, is to know whom the product is targeting.

"You have to know your audience so you can draw them in and actually communicate to them, because it's for them," she said.

It's also important to allow for enough white space, use effective graphics and choose words carefully whether you are designing a flyer, business card, brochure or copy form.

Matteo is involved with a variety of activities. She's a dancer and will produce the dance showcase next school year, works on the yearbook and on Link Crew, serves on the Honor Council and is part of the National Honor Society.

Through FBLA, she has sharpened her desktop-publishing skills, learned how to work as a team and how to compete. Plus, she has had fun and made friends through the experience.

"I think it will be beneficial in my future, no matter what I do," Matteo said about the skills she's gained from FBLA.

Belz hopes that Matteo does well at the national competition, but she said it's really not about winning.

"It's about the journey," Belz said. "The whole process of getting ... to that level is what is exciting."

"Anything else is just a bonus," she said.

The trip to compete and attend the conference at nationals costs $1,700 a person. So, Matteo and Belz are asking for any help they can get. At SSHS, FBLA raises about $5,000 to $7,000 a year for fees to local competitions; it does not receive funding from the school.

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