WESTPORT - The future is bright for a group of business-minded Westport students.
Seven students in Westport Central School's Future Business Leaders of America club participated in the New York State FBLA State Competition April 22 and 23, bringing home some impressive awards.
Two of the students, Sean Davis and Alan Ware, took second place in their respective events, and one student, Zach Sherman, placed first in his.
The state competition included more than 1,500 students from 66 schools across New York. Westport's club, which is only two years old, was among the smallest clubs at the competition and represented one of the smallest schools.
Students competed through the form of written tests and performances in a wide variety of business-related categories including finance, economics, job interview, impromptu speaking, and management. Each contained a field of at least 25 students.
The wins came as a pleasant surprise, even to the group's advisor, business teacher Adam Facteau.
"To have three out of seven students place is an amazing undertaking," he said. The other four, Nathan Gay, Kevin Russell, Kasaydia Carter-Martinez, and Liam Davis, also did well, some placing within the top 10 for their events.
"For the speaking events, all of us had a lot of support from the group," said Liam Davis, attributing shared constructive criticism to the club's success. "It provided us an opportunity to learn what we needed to work on."
Just getting to the competition was an accomplishment in itself. Students in the club first had to win at the regional level, which they did in stellar fashion as one of two schools in the state to place first in all public speaking events.
With all seven students qualifying, the club needed to raise more than $4,000 to pay for the three-day trip to Rochester. It was an investment the community was willing to make.
"We literally received about $2,500 in the matter of a week from businesses and individuals in the community," Facteau said, noting that other school organizations generously diverted funds from their budget to make up the difference.
For placing in the top two in their category, the three students were eligible to represent their state at the national competition, scheduled for June 23-28 in Anaheim, Calif. Travel costs and conflicts with Regents exams became prohibitive to their participation, but Facteau said the group will be more prepared in the future.
"Now that we know going to states and winning is something we can look forward to, I think we'll have that in mind as our goal for next year," he said.