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Not for Profit: Future Business Leaders of America

Jan. 19, 2009 — The Future Business Leaders of America club at Julius E. Sprauve School is preparing students to become just what its name suggests.
"FBLA gets them ready for the real world," says business teacher Clemmie Moses, the club's adult advisor.
The youths are full of energy and enthusiasm for all their projects.
"We have something important for us to do," says club President Javon Venzen, 15, who wants to be an electrical engineer.
He chaired the club's weekly Wednesday meeting with all the authority of a Fortune 500 executive, outlining the uniform members are expected to wear at the upcoming April state FBLA conference at the Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort and Spa on St. Thomas: yellow shirts or blouses, navy pants or skirts and navy blue jackets.
"With a tie that comes down in points at the end," he says, fingering his own square-end school uniform tie.
While appearance is important, the youths are focused on raising money so they can attend those off-island conferences.
"It gives us a chance to travel around the world," says Vice President Akiah Conliffe, 11. "We met different people in Atlanta, and we're going to California this year."
Kwasi Browne, 13, wants to be an engineer, and spoke about how attending the Atlanta convention helped him learn about how business skills will help him later in life.
"But the FBLA is about fun and business," Browne says.
The conference is, of course, the main event, but Moses says she and the students spend a few extra days sightseeing so they get to learn about the city.
While the conferences are educational, they learn the nuts and bolts of how business works with their daily cookie sales. Some of the students, as well as Moses and other Sprauve staff, arrive early each day to bake the cookies. Moses says they buy the cookie dough already shaped into balls from a St. Thomas supplier. They bake it in a small oven supplied by the cookie-dough manufacturer.
Other FBLA members cut up napkins and assemble other items need for sales.
"We need some more members to come up in the morning," Venzen says, urging more FBLA members to put in some time on the chores.
FBLA has its own corner under a stairwell where it sells the cookies and lollipops every day. Last week St. John resident Jane Ramnarine was on hand as the adult supervisor.
Two of Ramnarine's three children were FBLA members. They're now adults, with one in college and the other out in the business world, but Ramnarine still wants to help.
"They learned a lot about how to conduct themselves," she says.
In addition to the daily cookie sales, the students also hold monthly sandwich sales where students place their orders. During their recent meeting, the students were getting ready for that event.
And they were signing up to sell raffle tickets in conjunction with the "Make It Better for Children" annual gala.
"It's a community-service project," Moses says. "We are giving back to the community."
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