Students suit up for business contest

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— Sunday in Vail, on the last day of the resort's ski season, many teenagers in town wore suits and ties rather than scarves and hats.

"You had all these people in ski wear looking at 3,000 kids in business suits," said Shirley Belz, business teacher at Soroco High School. "It was such a crazy contrast."

Ten Soroco High School students participated in the state Future Business Leaders of America competition and leadership conference Sunday through Tuesday in Vail. Nearly 3,000 students from throughout Colorado participated in the event, which, in addition to business-oriented competitions, included numerous workshops, speakers and career-planning sessions.

"The leadership opportunities are just as important as the business events," Belz said.

Belz taught at Steamboat Springs High School for 27 years before coming to Soroco this winter. She coaches the school's FBLA team, which she said performed well at the conference.

"I could not have asked for a better group of kids," Belz said.

Two students had strong finishes. Junior Toni Lombardi placed fourth in a business ethics/etiquette event. Freshman Kimberly Rossi placed third in a public-speaking competition, narrowly missing the opportunity to qualify for FBLA's national competition in Nashville.

"She was a hangnail away from going to Nashville," Belz said. "It was amazing."

Rossi's speech focused on every person's ability to make a difference in the world. Belz said although this is Rossi's first year in FBLA, the freshman was not shaken by a lack of experience.

"She came to win," Belz said. "It was an outstanding accomplishment for a freshman -- she'll be back."

The theme of the conference was: "The Perfect Combination," which add--ressed the combination of factors that young people need to consider when planning for the future and setting goals. Belz said the students received inspiration not only from the workshops and speakers, but also from something simpler -- the conference's formal environment.

"Something kind of magical happens when students put on a business suit," she said.

-- To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203

or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

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