Future leaders headed to national competition

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— Not many high school students can say they have managed a grocery warehouse that generated $3.3 million in a year.

But that's exactly what a group of Hayden students did --ort of. The group is heading to the National Leadership Conference in Nashville, Tenn., from June 28 to July 2. The conference is for the Future Business Leaders of America organization.

To qualify for the competition, the team of three Hayden students managed the warehouse and competed online with about 250 other teams from throughout the country. The team's goal during the two-hour simulations was to maximize profits, which they accomplished by carefully controlling human resources, managing a fleet and setting the prices of goods.

"It's a lot like the Sims game," said Janna Hoza, referring to the popular computer game that allows players to simulate the lives of real people doing everyday things.

"They were obsessed with that game, which was really neat," Hayden FBLA adviser Kipp Rillos said.

A second Hayden team also qualified for nationals. The warehouse-managing team is composed of Hoza, Jessica Martin and Dusty Zabel. The second team consists of rising sophomores Jake Magee, Billy Zehner and Mitch VeDepo.

"I'm sure they were competing against teams that were nothing but seniors," Rillos said about the freshmen team. "To go to a national competition for FBLA is pretty unique. The experience of competing is really neat."

At the national conference, the students will be tested on their business knowledge, skills and leadership capabilities.

"The only two teams that qualified for this event in the state were from Hayden," Rillos said.

The students need more than $9,000 to attend the conference. They have raised some of that, and the school district has promised to pay for whatever is not raised. The Routt County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday voted to donate $600 for the trip.

"We're really excited," Hoza said. "We think it will be a lot of fun."

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