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Herriman Journal

Herriman students solve real-life problems for virtual competition

Sep 02, 2020 03:34PM ● By Jet Burnham

Sarah Hutchings, Abbie Van Leuven and Anna Shushvar win second place at FBLA State competition. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Hutchings.)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

Herriman High School Future Business Leaders of America club students successfully adapted their business projects to a virtual presentation when the national competition transitioned into a virtual competition due to the pandemic.

“I am so ridiculously proud of our kids,” said Herriman High School FBLA adviser Rickee Stewart. “It was a completely new format that required them to revamp their project presentations significantly. I can't even begin to express how proud I am of these kids. They rose to the challenge at levels I only hoped for.”

The students had been working on their projects since December and had presented them at the in-person state competition in early March. When schools moved to distance learning, team members had to work remotely to prepare for nationals. This wasn't a problem for the Computer Game Design Team.

“The three of us, we talk online almost every day, so we're quite good friends,” Ashton Blanchard said. “So, it was pretty easy to work together. Online didn't really change that for the three of us at least, because we're pretty used to talking online anyway.”

Their team had taken first place at the state competition by using a live-play demonstration of the video game, The Legend of Fablah, that they had created. For nationals, virtual judges wouldn’t be able to play the game, so the team had to rethink their presentation.

“We decided to record a trailer of gameplay, where we cut between a few different levels of the coolest parts of our game and gave some text over the top of it about what our game was about,” Blanchard said.

Blanchard felt good about their project and was pleased to finish in sixth place but was disappointed that there was no trip for nationals like last year when he flew to Texas to compete.

“Not all of our time was stuck doing FBLA, so we got to explore the city quite a bit as well,” he said.

Abbie Van Leuven was relieved not to have the burden of raising the large amount of money normally required to participate in a national FBLA competition. Her Digital Video Production team took second place at state to qualify for nationals with the advertisement they filmed for an airline targeted for school travel. Their idea was inspired by HHS Principal Todd Quarnberg.

Quarnberg had dropped by the classroom as the team was brainstorming ideas for their project. He shared his frustrations as a principal trying to arrange airline travel for student groups. The team liked the idea of solving a real-life problem and designed the project around a solution for their principal. They even invited him to be in their advertisement.

“He was totally up for it and was such a good sport for what we put him through,” Van Leuven said. “It was really nice to be able to work with him on that project. I think it really added a personal touch of Herrmann High to our video.”

It took several takes to get a variety of angles and, true to his nature, Quarnberg expanded on his lines differently each time.

“He likes to elaborate,” Van Leuven said. “So, we actually had to cut out a lot of what he said. What you see in the video is a mix of probably a half-hour of shooting.”

Originally, the team was going to play their advertisement on a video wall behind them as they answered judges’ questions about their filming and editing processes. For the virtual presentation, they had to film over a Zoom call with the video playing on the main screen. It was a challenge because they weren’t allowed to use teleprompters or to edit; it had to be one seamless take.

Van Leueven said the virtual format was a little less stressful than a live presentation.

“It's different performing in your own house versus in front of strangers you've never met before, so that was easier,” she said. 

However, the filming became more challenging when one of their team members was participating from Ukraine. Anna Shushvar was a foreign exchange student who was scheduled to go home before nationals. When the competition became virtual, the girls realized they could still include her in the Zoom call presentation. They just had to coordinate around time differences.

“Eventually, we just decided that Anna was going to have to stay up a little bit late and then we'd have to get up early to be able to record it,” Sarah Hutchings said.

Hutchings said the experience was a good lesson in collaboration.

“This experience taught me teamwork,” she said. “I've never really been that good at working in a team before this.”

Van Leuven said she knew they had worked hard to produce a good video but was still surprised when her team took third place at nationals. She credits the support of her teachers Rickee Stewart and Brent Cox. 

“I learned, as a high school student, how much the adults really cared for our success and were wanting us to do well in life,” she said. “And as a result of that, I was able to gain more confidence in myself and in my peers—that we really could do hard things that seem scary, but it would work out because we had wonderful adults around us who were totally willing to sacrifice time and energy to help us get where we wanted to be.”



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