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Claire Schiller and Beau Blanchard attended the Business Professionals of America National Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. Both competed in their categories. Claire served as head voting delegate for Minnesota, and Beau served as an alternate. Beau was also awarded the Ambassador Torch Award.

Teens attend national business competition

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Teens attend national business competition
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As two of the first Detroit Lakes High School students to make it to the Business Professionals of America National Leadership Conference, Claire Schiller and Beau Blanchard plan to go back again next year.

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"I'm glad we did start earlier. You need a couple years to take advantage of (everything the national level has to offer)," Schiller said. Schiller is a sophomore and Blanchard a freshman.

Some states only allow seniors to participate, but luckily, Minnesota is not one of them.

The DLHS students said they worked their way up through the regionals and then state competitions to earn their spots at the national convention in their chosen fields.

Schiller chose interview skills and fundamental accounting. She said her favorite part of her involvement with pageants has always been the interview portion, which she's won in every pageant she's competed in.

Blanchard competed in the PC servicing portion because he's always had a knack for computers and repairing them.

To get to the national competition though, while Blanchard qualified right away, Schiller became eligible after the top place-getters weren't able to attend. At the national level, Blanchard placed fifth in PC Servicing and Trouble Shooting, and Schiller placed 11th in Fundamental Accounting.

Traveling to Washington, D.C., May 4-8 for the "Stand Out From the Crowd" conference, the two students were there for more than just competition.

Blanchard also received the Ambassador Torch Award and served as a voting delegate alternate, while Schiller served as head voting delegate for Minnesota. She is also holds the position of state executive secretary.

There were over 5,000 other delegates from across the nation, and Blanchard said it was fun to meet others that were from within driving distance to D.C. to some from Alaska. They participated in business skills competitions, workshops, general sessions and the national officer candidate campaigns and elections.

"The conference was the culmination of a school year's worth of business skills education and training, which members of the local chapter of Business Professionals of America have received," said State Executive Director Jackie Schiller, who has been with BPA for the past 16 years.

Schiller is also Claire Schiller's mother, which Claire said is the reason she got involved in BPA in the first place.

Jackie Schiller added, that a unique highlight of the conference this year was the National Leadership Conference Opening Session at the foot of the Washington Monument.

All conference attendees stood together at this historic sight as the first Career/Technical Student Organization to gather at the National Mall.

At the convention, Blanchard and Schiller said they also got to meet with college representatives and see what the colleges will do for BPA members, which turned out to be very positive.

Next year's national competition is being held in Chicago, and both students are excited to attend. Blanchard said he will be running for a state office, and Schiller said she will be running for a national position.

To find out more about Business Professionals of America, visit www.bpa.org.

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