FBLA State Competitors overcome social-distancing barriers in SLC submissions

A winners smile. Pictured are Juniors Rahav Kothuri and Abhinav Pasupuleti, posing victoriously for a photo at the 2019 State Leadership Conference. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the State Leadership Conference of 2020 was cancelled, students were invited to watch a live awards ceremony virtually, similar to the 2021 SLC broadcast. We are excited to see what Georgia FBLA has in store for virtual SLC, said Rahav. My group has worked really hard so the award ceremony is a rewarding ceremony.

Used with permission from Rahav Kothuri.

A winner’s smile. Pictured are Juniors Rahav Kothuri and Abhinav Pasupuleti, posing victoriously for a photo at the 2019 State Leadership Conference. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the State Leadership Conference of 2020 was cancelled, students were invited to watch a live awards ceremony virtually, similar to the 2021 SLC broadcast. “We are excited to see what Georgia FBLA has in store for virtual SLC,” said Rahav. “My group has worked really hard so the award ceremony is a rewarding ceremony.”

Shreya Mishra, Senior Editor, Online Lead

On Friday, January 18th, Georgia FBLA announced Regional Competition winners leaders via a Youtube Live Ceremony. In the days following, South Forsyth High School FBLA members, in collaboration with advisers, spent weeks overcoming obstacles to plan and execute team submissions, objective tests, and live virtual presentations for the State Leadership Conference.

I spoke to several different State Competitors about their experience working on group projects remotely. Each competitor shared their different experiences in tackling virtual presentations, which included questions from a live panel of judges and submitting projects over a virtual competition platform.

Junior Kira Brianne participated in the Electronic Career Portfolio event, requiring her to create a presentation that encompassed her experiences applying for her future career. Brianne highlighted the differences in this year’s submission, and how the socially-distanced nature of applying and accepting a job position impacted her project. Her experience in the event was challenging, but enriching nonetheless. She looks forward to the presentation aspect of her project, as it will be over a conference video call to a panel of judges.

This year it was very different because I competed in a totally different category that was less in-person interaction. It was challenging but very interesting!”

— Kira Brianne, Junior

“I have created many websites in the past so I did not have too many difficulties,” Brianne noted. “But I am interested to see what obstacles I will face when I present for SLC.” 

For Brianne and many other competitors, this year’s experience posed challenges that ultimately helped them grow as flexible yet hardworking individuals, and put their best forth regardless of circumstantial changes.

“All in all, the project has allowed me to truly reflect on what accomplishment I have made and what things I need to do to be most successful in my future career,” Brianne remarked. “Staying optimistic and always continuing to improve is how I have worked on facing anything thrown my way.”

While some students experienced little to no change in their virtual submissions, others had to overcome vast changes to their events. Rasagna Vuppala’s experience in the Hospitality Management case study was widely different and at times difficult for her and her partners this year. The Hospitality Management case study event encompasses a 60-minute group objective test administered at school, followed by a role-play event performed in front of a panel of judges. Rasagna noted that social-distancing during the objective testing was necessary but challenging to her and her partners.

Creativity at work. Rasagna Vuppala and her partner Swetha Pendela created this logo for the FBLA event Publication Design. This event allowed students to explore graphic design and create a logo for a company based on their interests. “We came up with this logo to help stressed high schoolers have the chance to ‘destress,'” Vuppala explained. (Rasagna Vuppala)

“Due to the virtual atmosphere, my group had to take the tests separately, and then the scores were averaged. I do understand the procedure, but it was tough for our group and changed our idea of working together. Ultimately, though, I think it was a learning experience,” Vuppala said. 

Vuppala also spoke on overcoming the difficulties that restrictions on group testing posed to her and her peers.

“We would have appreciated if we could have taken the tests together so that we would have the opportunity to discuss. However, we overcame that by studying our best and doing our best as well.”

Junior Rahav Kothuri echoed these concerns as he prepared for the Entrepreneurship case study event with his partners, noting the inefficiency that the group faces at times over video-conference meetings.

“Not being able to see each other in person makes it very difficult when trying to practice for the actual case study,” Kothuri remarked. “We’ve tried to use Zoom but I feel that it is not as effective as in-person preparation.” 

Although competitors faced difficult obstacles, they worked hard to overcome these barriers and exceed in their respective competitive events.

Moreover, State Leadership Submissions are finishing up this week across Georgia, and a live virtual awards ceremony is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, March 23, from 3:15 pm to 6 pm. At South Forsyth High School, a limited number of competitors are invited to watch the event with their team members and peers. South FBLA and its competitors are looking forward to winning big this year at State, having overcome the challenges associated with virtual competition submissions.