Future Business Leaders of America is an organization on campus for students to gain hands on experience in the realm of business and leadership. A recent addition of FBLA, however, is the enforcement of the Career and Technological Education requirement for any member who wishes to be apart of FBLA.
“The state of California said [three years ago] that for students to be members of [organizations like FBLA], they had to have taken a career and technical education class at their high school,” said Laurie Looker, WHS FBLA chapter advisor. “That was a challenge because here at Westlake High School, we don’t offer too many of those CTE classes.”
CTE is a type of class in which the student learns a topic through real life practice and skill. CTE aids in leading a student towards a certain career, specifically under the categories of science, business, government, communications and more.
“Practice, hands-on experience, and application tests make up the bulk of CTE,” according to Applied Education Systems. “This is important because CTE careers require workers to have experience in their field before starting a career.”
The new requirement was put in place in hopes that it would directly apply to the activities FBLA members participate in. CTE classes at WHS, however, are low in number with none relating to business.
Classes that WHS students can take to fulfill this requirement include Computer Graphics, Digital Media, Game Design and Academy classes. Because of the lack of CTE classes available at WHS, many students looking to join FBLA are taking their courses through a program known as the Career Education Center, located in Moorpark.
“We’re trying to find ways to bring more CTE classes to WHS, but it’s challenging because students have … very busy schedules [so] it’s hard to fit something in,” said Looker. “We’re trying to make it so that it’s an elective that you would normally take for your schedule but it would also count to be in FBLA.”
With the requirement, Looker has seen the numbers of the club go from nearly 100 at its peak to about 25. Students are now having to find ways to fit this requirement into their schedule.
“Next year I will have to take periods 1-7, and I will have a total of 6 academic classes with the CTE requirement,” said Hayley Gadsby ‘23.
Despite the lower numbers, FBLA has not stopped working on numerous projects.
For instance, they are working on a community service project focused on the homeless community. Michael Rittmaster ‘23, a new member of FBLA, said that the club is helping homeless people to “make resumes and get jobs.”
FBLA’s second project is having students speak with large businesses such as Caruso and learning about what working in an environment like that would entail. This gives students real life experience in future business pursuits.
“[They are] learning more about how properties are built in Thousand Oaks and how that relates to our economic base,” said Looker.
A final project is known as American Enterprise, an outreach to middle school students at the Boys and Girls Club. Gadsby adopted a chapter at Los Cerritos Middle School to allow “the middle school students to listen to the business professionals that have been coming to WHS for the American Enterprise project.”
Alongside all of these projects, FBLA is preparing for a sectional competition against 14 other local high schools on Feb. 22. They hope to reach the top 10 in order to make it to the state level competition.
The point of enforcing this CTE requirement was to have additional knowledge in the category the students compete in. However, the low amount of CTE classes means competition preparation typically happens by self-studying.
“The state wants students to take classes in business for FBLA so that then, those skills they learn in the classroom, then they can apply them to our competitive events program,” said Looker. “Our students here at WHS, for years, have just been self-studying because we don’t have any business classes at WHS.”
In addition to self-studying, FBLA members are taking practice tests or preparing certain presentations. Ethan Prudhomme ‘21, an FBLA member due to his membership in the Academy, is preparing by taking digital media and graphic design classes as well as organizing materials for competition.
“I’m doing a competition in graphic design,” said Prudhomme. “I am also doing a broadcast journalism competition. Me and two other FBLA members had to write a story on three topics and then film a news broadcast … I am doing the graphic design competition alone and I have to make a graphic design based on a certain prompt.”
Alongside the competition, there will be opportunities to hear from keynote speakers and network with other local high schools.
“This will be a great opportunity for me to meet other people from around the section who are also in FBLA,” said Gadsby. “I am excited to meet new people and take part in the competitions.”