Lejeune High School Future Business Leaders of America team

(From left to right): Lejeune High School Future Business Leaders of America members Ariana Quackenbush, Allyssa Ocampo, Aaron Pierce, Noelle Racadio, Natalia Gonzalez, and coach Charles Teegarden pose for a photo following the Future Business Leaders of America Central Region competition.

Following a stellar trip to regional competition, the Lejeune High School Future Business Leaders of America club has set its eyes on its next venture. The state competition is just around the corner in Greensboro, and its members do not plan to come back emptyhanded.

Lejeune High had seven FBLA students attend Central Regional Competitive Events — Natalia Gonzalez, Noelle Racadio, Nathan Perdue, Allyssa Ocampo, Aaron Pierce, Jordan Walzer and Ariana Quackenbush. Four of them — Gonzalez, Racadio, Pierce and Walzer — placed and will compete at next month’s State Leadership Conference. Perdue, Ocampo and Gonzalez will also attend, competing in a different event than the ones they participated in at regionals. Events include such things as networking concepts, agribusiness, computer applications, accounting, political science and job interview.

Charles Teegarden, a U.S. Navy veteran who teaches business courses at LHS, chartered the club in 2009 and serves as its guide. He sees the competition as an opportunity to both showcase the skills members have already learned and pick up some new tools.

“The state competition isn’t just giving students a chance to showcase what they have learned. It also features workshops to learn new skills. … For instance, the state offers computer application courses that Lejeune does not since DoD and the state level have different curriculums,” said Teegarden.

The competition is broken into on-site events such as job interviewing, and online assessments like political science.

Competing in the Computer Apps portion of the regional competition is Racadio, the club’s vice president. She feels that the club gives a different perspective on high school.

“It’s given me a different high school experience. I have a lot of applicable skills,” said Racadio, who is in her second year as a club member.

Among those are learning how to function in a workplace environment.

“I’m definitely learning business communications and business ethics — just how to act professional,” said Racadio.

The event Racadio is competing in showcases how well a competitor can use business software. Her specialty?

“Definitely spreadsheets. … I’ve taken digital classes,” said Racadio. She even admitted to spending some down time working with the applications. At regionals she took third place in the event.

Other classes link up well with FBLA’s competition. Gonzalez, FBLA president, finds that her career practicum course helped a lot in her job interview event for FBLA in which she placed first at regionals. The practicum course focused on resume building, cover letters, interviewing and applying for positions.

“I can write for days. … My resume is pretty rock solid,” said Gonzalez. She is also a member of LHS’s softball team and editor in chief of the yearbook.

“She leads and has a tremendous amount of qualities,” Teegarden said of Gonzalez. “… She did quite well at the regional level and will do well at the state level. She has high goals.”

The senior certainly does, having been accepted to the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. She is also waiting to hear back from Harvard University, Duke University, the University of Chicago and Penn State, among others.

“I want to do my major based off of where I go to school,” said Gonzalez. Right now she’s interested in neurology, criminal justice, orchestral conducting or graphic design.

Racadio will be attending the University of California at San Bernardino where she plans to become a trauma nurse.

Gonzalez said she’s very aware that her job interview event will be different at the state level. However she feels confident.

“I try to be charismatic. … You learn when to turn it on. When to be monotone, when to pep it up. … You learn to read people. … You’ll have like four people firing questions at you when you get there though. They’re not afraid to put you through the grinder,” said Gonzalez.

And, while Lejeune High School is often viewed as an underdog by some in the Onslow County community, it doesn’t bother the competitors.

Lejeune is one of the smaller programs in the competition, which will feature 2,200 to 2,300 students from across the state.

“Lejeune is kind of like the underdog. But when you go to state, you’ll meet retirees or judges who know about Lejeune or have been stationed here and it makes you feel more at home,” said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said the team is a tight-knit group, which she sees as an advantage.

“You know everyone, not just on the team but in the school,” said Gonzalez.

The members and their mentor see plenty of tangible benefits of FBLA.

“It teaches a perspective on ethics and professionalism. It teaches how to dress, act and perform in a business-like manner,” said Teegarden.

“This club is important. … It’s important to invest in yourself. It also shows you a world outside the base,” said Racadio.

“You hold yourself to a higher standard. … We’re here to show we’re the best of the best. We’re not just students,” said Gonzalez.

The state competition will take place March 25 to 27 in Greensboro.