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Pl. Valley students place at national FBLA conference

Pleasant Valley High School pulled out a first-place and a third-place finish at the Future Business Leaders of America National Conference. First place went to rising senior Jaxon Havens and third place went to Jordan McGrath, who recently graduated from PVHS.

“Jaxon and Jordan just climbed to the pinnacle of success,” said Denise Hopely, adviser of the club, which has about 189 members. “These kids take this gauntlet and run with it because they love their school.”

Hopely said that in addition to competing against students from this country, students from Japan, China and Germany also compete. When she first began working with the club four years ago, the students were a little bit intimidated by this, but she told them that Pleasant Valley has earned its place at the competition. It isn’t about beating them; it’s about them beating you, she said. It was all in the mindset.

“They can compete nationally and internationally,” Hopely said. “They believed it. They saw it. They thought it. They did it.”

Due to the coronavirus, the competition could not be held in Utah. Instead, the students competed through taking tests online.

Havens’ first-place win was in broadcast journalism. He competed against about 150 students. It was his first time to nationals.

“It was really exciting,” Havens said about winning. “I expected to be somewhere in the top, but I didn’t think top five - a solid eighth.”

He said he chose journalism because he loves to write and enjoys following the news. He also has some background as he served as the editor of the newspaper in middle school.

“I’m very astute when comes to paying attention to the news and how people write and how that influences the story,” he said. “I’ve always been very interested in that.”

McGrath finished in third place in coding and programming, but it wasn’t his first time to the competition. He has competed at nationals four times, placed ninth last year, and won the state championship twice. He plans to major in software engineering at East Stroudsburg University in the fall.

“I think what is so interesting about the creation of software or anything computationally is the linear structure to things, and how when you create something, you really build it from the bottom up. No two designs are going to be the same,” he said. “The same way Jaxon likes writing words, when you write code you just kind of get like a feel for somebody. It’s weird, but it’s cool to me.”

“He’s just phenomenal. I don’t know how he does it,” Hopely said. “He’s going to be very successful.”

McGrath’s competition also included a presentation, which was recorded and sent to the judges. The students were given a real-life scenario that they had to solve in 20 minutes or at least troubleshoot to the best of their ability. The question? Figure out a way to help a corporation digitally connect several remote locations so they could share data while adhering to privacy and security laws.

“It’s very important that we have the backing of the superintendent and school board. We’ve gotten a lot of acclamations from them,” Hopely said.

She is thankful to the parents and the community for their support, because the students’ community service is an important part of the club.

“We’re not just from Brodheadsville; we’re from the United States, and we’re here to compete,” she said. “We did our best. We represent the best county in the area. We have the greatest parents and the greatest community.”

Jordan McGrath
Jaxon Havens