Daisy Burns a finalist at FBLA National competition

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Just received word Daisy Burns did not place in the top 10 in Public Speaking I at FBLA Nationals. Sponsor Cherie Witt says that placing in the top 14 is an honor in itself and that the Lancer Nation is very proud of her accomplishment. Witt added that, knowing Daisy, this will only provide her more motivation next year.


She’s not supposed to be there.  After all, the only reason she’s in Chicago, Illinois this week is because somebody who was ahead of her dropped out and she was in fourth place – next in line and one spot shy of qualifying for Nationals on her own.

Qualifying for the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) National Leadership Conference is difficult.  You have to finish in the top three in your category at State to be eligible for Nationals.  To be a finalist at Nationals you then have to be in the top 15.

At the state competition Southeast High School FBLA member Daisy Burns took fourth place in Public Speaking I.  She was told she would have been top two if it hadn’t been for a time penalty (she was 14 seconds short).  But she caught a break – the first place winner at State qualified for Nationals in another event and you can only compete in one event at Nationals.  That student chose to participate in the other event and Burns was invited in her place.

It has already been a big year for the FBLA chapter at Southeast.  They nearly swept a local competition, 17 members qualified for State and three members had already qualified for Nationals.  Not bad for a small school where the chapter is still fairly new.  Cherie Witt is only in her third year as sponsor.

Rewind to Tuesday night.  The Southeast FBLA members presented at Nationals earlier that day and were out touring the sites – they are in Chicago after all.

“We were standing in line for the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier and had been waiting for the results to post when I got the message,” Witt said.  “I downloaded the finalist list and started reading the states.  When I said ‘Kansas’, I looked over and said ‘Daisy Burns’.  All the girls stopped and said ‘are you serious?’  She (Daisy) kept saying ‘are you serious?’  I was so excited, I may have jumped up and down, and considering we were getting ready to load the Ferris wheel, which I am totally afraid of, that was quite the reaction.  She immediately called her parents and brother and I posted to Twitter and started talking with our state advisor about what is next.”

There were 105 competitors at Nationals in Public Speaking I and, Witt said for Burns to be in the top 15 “is amazing”.

Burns is Witt’s first student to be a finalist at Nationals.

“I’m super proud that after three years of attending, we finally have our first finalist,” Witt said.  “It’s just some super tough competition – very hard to do.”

“I think this success will build more confidence and drive us to do better within the chapter,” Burns said.  “Sometimes kids just need that boost of confidence and I think experience will help that.”

Burns gave her speech Wednesday morning and will not learn results until Thursday evening, but Witt sent out a tweet to update everyone on how it went: “Daisy just gave her speech and in my opinion ROCKED IT!  Watched a few others and she’s definitely 1st in my book.”

Public Speaking I is for freshmen and sophomores of the current school year.  Burns will be a sophomore this coming school year and she is joined at Nationals with recent Southeast graduates Katie Horsman, Olivia Powell and Katie Yancey.  While their team did not make the finals at Nationals, Burns said their support has helped build her confidence.

“The older girls really support me no matter what,” Burns said.  “It makes you feel really good when older people take notice of your accomplishments, so that makes me feel great.  I also feel like I have to live up to their accomplishments so I push myself to do just as good as they would.”

“The competitiveness among our chapter is amazing – all of us are competing for the ultimate goal of Nationals,” said Powell.  “Since we took 17 to state and only qualified four for Nationals, you can only imagine how tough the competition is.  It’s a great experience to watch how supportive everyone is of each other in our competitions.”

The Southeast students will not be able learn in person where Burns places because they will not be staying for the award ceremony Thursday night.  However, Witt said they are watching as many final presentations as they can, not just the ones her students took part in.

“We will be watching our events but also those that we were close to qualifying in so we can better prepare for next year,” Witt said.

Regardless of how Burns finishes at the National Finals it has been a big year for the still young Future Business Leaders of America chapter at Southeast High School.

The Southeast FBLA’s first competition for the 2014-15 school year started with a bang when the Lancers nearly swept the Cherokee County Youth Entrepreneur Fair, taking first, second, third and fifth place:  Sarah Clausen, Wyntr Jacobs and Caitlin Low took first place; Katey Freeman and Camrin Sellers took second; Zoey Ball, Erin Horgan and Sami Sullivan took third; and, Burns, Kyra Stewart and Hannah Williams took fifth.

Those teams qualified for the Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, where Clausen, Jacobs and Low took second place; and, Freeman and Sellers won the Joplin Regional Partnership People’s Choice.

The triumphs continued for the Southeast FBLA chapter at the MSSU Annual Business Contest, with three first place finishes and two second place finishes:  In the Individual Awards for the Freshmen Group, Clausen took first place in Personal Finance; and, Low took second in Business Communications.  In the Team Awards for Division II, Low, Dietrich Smith and Williams took first in Entrepreneurship Team; Freeman and Sellers took first in Management Team; and, Kalyn Bitner and Melanie Hartman took second in in Website Development Team.

Of the seventeen Southeast students who qualified for State competition, four qualified for Nationals.  Horsman, Powell and Yancey qualified for Nationals by placing third in Business Presentation; and, Burns placed fourth in Public Speaking I.

“FBLA has helped me step way out of my comfort zone in things that I couldn’t even imagine doing freshman year,” Powell said.  “Mrs. Witt has been so supportive in helping us prepare not only for our competitions, but for the rest of our life as well.”

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Photo attached

Four members of the Southeast High School FBLA chapter are in Chicago, Illinois this week for the 2015 FBLA-PBL National Leadership Conference.  Pictured left to right are Nationals finalist Daisy Burns, Katie Yancey, Katie Horsman and Olivia Powell.  Photo provided by Southeast FBLA sponsor Cherie Witt.

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