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BPA teaches students about the business world

Paula Preston, student writer

Have you ever wanted to learn more about working in business before even going out into the real world? If so, Park Rapids Area School District has a program just for you. It is called Business Professionals of America, also known as BPA.

Angie Kheun has been running the program for 16 years. She believes it is a great opportunity for kids to prepare for work.

"It looks great on a college application," Kheun said. It is for anyone with plans to study any type of business while attending college.

BPA members compete in a competition. The first one is regions, which is usually held in Wadena in January. State competition is in March, and nationals will be held in Dallas, Texas, this year in April.

There are four main categories to choose from and those are divided into sub-categories. The categories are: financial services, administrative support, information technology and management/marketing/human resources.

Last year Kheun went to nationals for the first time in 14 years. It was all thanks to Ally Lempola. She won competition in management/marketing/

human resources.

The group does fundraising for everything. When someone goes to nationals, some of Kheun's expenses are paid.

In previous years, the number of participants has been small. Last year was the largest group Kheun has ever had. There were about 20 students. This year she is encouraging more kids to come out and be active in BPA.

"I encourage students who are curious about business careers to join BPA. It's a great opportunity to learn and meet new people," Kheun said.

One of the members of BPA, Shawn Hayes, was elected to be the state vice president of BPA.

"It's a great honor and doesn't happen very often to a kid from Park Rapids," Kheun said. Hayes will be helping run the leadership meetings.

This year, Kheun is trying to get BPA more involved in the community, so more people know about the program. Kheun has a lot of local activities planned. One activity they will take part in is Caring and Sharing, which helps low income families have a good Christmas.

Al Judson, Park Rapids Area High School principal, likes the program and would love to see it continue for a long time.

"I believe that it helps kids learn better discipline," Judson said. "They learn life-long things."

In years past, students in BPA have also been able to leave school early to work in the community during the last three periods of the day. The students that worked in the community were the only students in BPA. Now, Kheun has opened up the program for other students who don't work. BPA and the work program are now separate.

Jasmine Felt is part of the work program.

"I really enjoy it. I get out of school and earn some extra cash," Felt said. She works at Itasca Region Insurance Agency.

"BPA and the work program are great opportunities and it's a fun way to learn work experiences," Felt said.