East­side duo earns sec­ond place in na­tional FBLA com­pe­ti­tion

The Covington News - - The Second Front - STAFF RE­PORTS news@cov­news.com

State cham­pi­ons Dustin Gen­tis and Con­ner Haler, both se­niors at East­side High School, took home sec­ond place hon­ors in the Dig­i­tal Video Pro­duc­tion cat­e­gory at the re­cent na­tional FBLA Com­pe­ti­tion in San An­to­nio, Texas.

“Ob­vi­ously, we are ex­tremely proud of Con­ner and Dustin,” said Jeff Cher, prin­ci­pal of East­side High School. “When you see their video, you im­me­di­ately re­al­ize that these young men are cre­ative and tal­ented. It is ex­cit­ing to see the op­por­tu­ni­ties that these two students have cre­ated for them­selves. I am glad that their hard work and in­vest­ment of time are be­ing re­warded with all the ac­co­lades and well-de­served recog­ni­tion.”

With two teams per state and 35 states rep­re­sented, the duo com­peted against 69 other fi­nal­ists from across the na­tion. The na­tional topic for the Dig­i­tal Video Pro­duc­tion cat­e­gory was “The Dan­gers of Tex- ting and Driv­ing.”

“We were a lit­tle in­tim­i­dated be­cause we were com­pet­ing against other state cham­pi­ons and we didn’t know what was out there,” said Haler.

“We re­ally didn’t know what to ex­pect,” said Gen­tis.

In ad­di­tion to the video it­self, the students were scored on their pre­sen­ta­tion to the judges.

“It’s not just the video,” said Gen­tis. “We had to make a pre­sen­ta­tion in front of the judges. We had to ex­plain how we came up with the idea for our video and how we used the equip­ment to come up with an ef­fec­tive piece.”

“We only got seven min­utes and that in­cluded the time to show the video,” said Haler. “There was also a three-minute ques­tion and an­swer round where the judges asked us ques­tions about our project so we had to make sure that we knew our stuff. It’s worth 10 points out of the 100 and you have no idea what they might ask so a lot of our prepa­ra­tion was pre­par­ing for ques­tions they might ask.”

Af­ter the pre­lim­i­nary round on day one, the East­side team learned they had made it to the fi­nal cut and were one of just 15 fi­nal­ists.

“We had to stay up late that night,” said Gen­tis. “There was a big crowded room of peo­ple wait­ing to

see if they made it to the fi­nals. We were pretty con­fi­dent that we would make it be­cause we felt that we had re­ally worked hard.”

“We were con­fi­dent but the wait was ag­o­niz­ing,” Haler said.

Dur­ing the fi­nal round of com­pe­ti­tion, the duo had to present their project all over again to a new set of judges and a packed au­di­ence.

“We had to wait three days to find out how we did,” said Haler. “On the night of the award cer­e­mony, they called all the fi­nal­ists in the cat­e­gory on stage and started an­nounc­ing the places back­wards. We started get­ting ex­cited af­ter we were still on stage for fourth and third place.”

Gen­tis said they are very proud of their sec­ond place fin­ish (a team from Alabama won first place hon­ors).

“It sup­ports the idea that we worked hard and tried to cre­ate some­thing that was qual­ity and ef­fec­tive,” he said.

Haler noted that their project was dif­fer­ent from oth­ers pre­sented at the com­pe­ti­tion.

“We spent more time look­ing into the psy­chol­ogy of teens when it comes to tex­ting and driv­ing,” he said. “Most of the projects fo­cused on a car crash and killing some­body. We also in­cluded the fact that you could go to jail. You could hit a child in the street and de­stroy a fam­ily in the process,” said Haler.

Ac­cord­ing to Haler, the two are us­ing the knowl­edge they’ve gained from work­ing on the project to spread the word about the dan­gers of tex­ting while driv­ing.

“We’re now speak­ing at the New Lon­don Driv­ing School,” said Haler. “We’re speak­ing about the dan­gers of tex­ting and driv­ing to 15 and 16 year olds who are just now learn­ing how to drive.”

“Win­ning sec­ond place in the na­tion is an ex­tra­or­di­nary achieve­ment and we are ex­tremely proud of Dustin and Con­ner,” said Gary Mathews, Su­per­in­ten­dent for New­ton County Schools.

“Through their hard work, they have earned na­tional recog­ni­tion for them­selves and our school sys­tem. I com­mend them for their com­mit­ment to the FBLA pro­gram and I’m sure we can ex­pect even greater ac­com­plish­ments from them in the fu­ture. They most def­i­nitely ex­em­plify our motto of ‘Spirit, Pride and Ex­cel­lence.’”

Con­ner Haler and Dustin Gen­tis won sec­ond place for their video.

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