Portola Business Gets Busy with Local Competition


Courtesy of Lili Shou

To prepare for the newly created provisional business competition, Business Club president and junior Howard Zhang creates study guides for each “cluster” or category of questions and provides competitors with links to past DECA and FBLA tests with questions similar to those they might expect to see.

Business Club hosted two competitions on April 30 and May 7 for students in preparation for next year’s formal competition season. The first place winners of the events included junior Sriya Boppana for marketing, senior Ryan Bascos for computer and design and sophomore Jenny Zhang for finance.

Normally, the Distributive Education Clubs of America and Future Business Leaders of America, two organizations that aim to prepare students for post-high school life by helping them build business and leadership skills, would host the competitions.

However, to compete in the DECA and FBLA competitions, students are required to take a Virtual Enterprise ROP course, which the school does not currently offer. While it was planned to be added last year, a change of advisory has delayed this process, and the course will not be added until the 2021-22 school year, according to club president and junior Howard Zhang.

“We do hope to compete next year,” Zhang said. “Two years ago, during our inaugural year, we were actually doing pretty good in competitions, and several of us made it to nationals. But that never happened because of COVID, so next year we’re hoping to win back our glory and make up for our absence.”

The sudden shift required board members to ideate new ways to adapt to the unusual situation, according to adviser Katherine Dillon.

The first event entailed a multiple choice exam with questions written by club officers based on the curriculum from the official DECA and FBLA competitions to emulate the rigor of the actual exams, according to Zhang. Categories for these questions included marketing, computer and design, hospitality and finance.

The second event required students to take on the role of a travel agency trying to sell a vacation plan to a customer, which was played by the club’s officers.

“I love all the crazy ideas they come up with,” Dillon said. “I just love watching the students do their thing, being able to take charge and really run with it. I didn’t tell them anything about how to do the competition, so it was really cool to see what they came up with on their own.”

As the club’s director of competition, junior Anna Su facilitated the creation of the club’s curriculum for meetings with the help of other board members, in addition to the development of the test taking and role-play activities for the two-part competition.

“I’m really looking forward to the competitions [next year] because, my sophomore year, DECA state was a really fun trip,” Su said. “Basically, it was like four days off of school, and it was in the Bay Area, so we got to visit a lot of different places and go to San Francisco. So I’m hoping that we can travel again next year.”