Cort Fuller from Pine Prairie High School (left) and Gabrielle Fontenot from Sacred Heart High School (right) are pictured here at the FBLA District VI Conference that was held this year in Lafayette. The pair are state officers from Evangeline Parish and will pass the torch to new officers later this month during the state conference at the Cajundome. (Photo courtesy of Jala Bergeron at Pine Prairie High School)
Raising Evangeline’s stock in FBLA
Evangeline Parish has always had a rich heritage in high school organizations. This is especially true in Future Business Leaders of America as the parish has sent numerous students to district competitions. These same students have then gone to compete, and more importantly represent the parish, at the state and national competitions.
Besides having students competing in business related events, the parish has also had some of its own become state FBLA officers. A few of those have even gone on to the rank of national officers.
While it has been common for officers to come from Evangeline Parish, it is rather uncommon to have two officers from the parish at the same time. That is the case this year as Gabrielle Fontenot from Sacred Heart High School is wrapping up her year as state reporter, and Cort Fuller from Pine Prairie is wrapping up his term as FBLA District VI Vice President.
“Last year Sacred Heart had two officers, and this year we have two from the same parish,” Fontenot said. “As far as I know, I think this is the first time that we have two from Evangeline Parish in a while.”
Fontenot expressed what being a state officer means for her club. “I think it’s definitely a great thing for my club,” she said. “I know for Cort at Pine Prairie it’s definitely big too. I think the most important thing about being a state officer is not just for us but what it teaches other people. Other people look at us and say they want to do what we did. I think it really helps grow our chapter and grow our chapter’s morale, confidence, and competitiveness when we go to competitions.”
Echoing her sentiments was Fuller. “I think it’s extremely awesome to have two officers from Evangeline Parish, and I really think it makes us stand out from the whole state,” he said. “We’re a very rural and small parish, so it seems we wouldn’t be able to have this much influence as some of the parishes that have huge populations and big schools and large programs.”
He added, “The Pine Prairie chapter is very small, and a lot of the chapters in Evangeline Parish are; however, we still make a significant impact on FBLA in Louisiana. I think that’s great for us.”
The junior from Sacred Heart was elected state reporter last year and described what her duties are at her position. “I’m state reporter, so I manage the state’s social media accounts,” Fontenot said. “I post stuff every once in a while to promote the state FBLA and kind of get in touch with some members to remind them about our activities.”
“I’m also in charge of the Louisiana Leader, which is our Louisiana FBLA newsletter,” she continued. “I get article submissions from different chapters across the state, and I get fellow state officers to write different articles to feature.”
The state officers completed their rounds of the seven district competitions about two weeks ago and are looking forward to the state competition at the Cajundome in Lafayette later this month. This is also when they will pass the torch to newly elected state officers.
“I love being a state officer,” Fontenot stated. “The district competitions were so much fun and were very fast paced. I think I learned so much about working with people and how to put on an event of that size. I got to meet so many different people from the state and network with people, and these connections will last me my entire life. I’m looking forward to state so much to do our next round of everything.”
Fuller described his year as vice president as being both challenging and rewarding. As he said, “I’ve learned several different things and skills. I’ve been able to travel the state, which was an amazing experience. I was able to meet people from all over the state and was able to socialize with other people in the local areas after the conferences.”
“That was an amazing experience, so I’m very glad for that,” he continued. “The position, also, did require a lot of me, and I’m glad it did because it pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to grow as an individual.”
While Fontenot and Fuller are both state officers, they took different paths to reach this point in their lives.
Fontenot’s time in FBLA began her freshman year at Sacred Heart competing in Introduction to Parliamentary Procedure. “I was interested because I saw other people from my school doing it, and I saw them winning competitions and going to compete at district and national competitions,” she stated. “I wanted to experience that for myself.”
“The first year was one of the most exciting times,” she continued. “I didn’t really know what to expect when I started out with my test for district. I studied the material they gave me, but I was kind of going in blind. We got to district, and I won first. Then, I really wanted to do well at state. I studied and practiced with the Parliamentary team, but I really didn’t know what to expect and how I would place. Then, I made it to the top 10 and ended up winning first. That was awesome for me to win freshman year, and then I went on to compete at nationals in Atlanta. That really got me into it and sold me on FBLA.”
Since then, she went on to join the Parliamentary team at Sacred Heart and also compete in Improntu Speaking. She made it to nationals in both events last year in Anaheim, Ca., and is competing in the same events at the state level this year.
Fuller, on the other hand, joined FBLA on a whim. “I heard our school chapter advertise that membership was open during my sophomore year, so I decided I would try it and see what it was like,” he said. “I’m extremely glad I did because, when I did, I fell in love with it.”
He continued, “I was already a member of BETA, so I already competed in BETA competitions. But, when I went to my first FBLA conference, it blew me away because the atmosphere was so professional. Everything seemed so organized, and it was just a wonderful experience. Everybody dressed up in formal attire, and I loved the whole setting.”
That year Fuller competed in Introduction to Business Procedures and Current Events. He placed second in state in Business Procedures and went on to compete in nationals in Atlanta.
During his junior year is when he decided to run for District VI Vice President. “One of the students at our school during my first year in FBLA was the district officer,” Fuller stated. “Seeing her in the position and seeing the other officers, I thought it was inspiring, and I thought their positions were really cool. I thought that seemed like fun things to do such as running a campaign, creating a speech and a slogan, and being able to make a difference in how the conference goes.”
Fuller described what his vice presidential duties entail. “The district vice presidents are responsible for organizing their respective district conferences,” he said. “I’m the District VI vice president which means I have to make sure the District VI conference goes smoothly and that the competitions are able to run somewhat according to schedule. Our goal is to ensure that every member can go there and have a great time, compete in their competitions, and enjoy the experience.”
After placing ninth in Business Law and Entrepreneurship at state last year, Fuller will compete again this year at state. This time around it is in Mr. FBL.
As a senior this year, Fuller reflected on what his time in FBLA meant for him. “Now I’m just looking back on it all, and I have to say I am extremely glad that I joined FBLA,” he expressed. “It has been an extremely rewarding three years, and it’s been something defined my high school experience. I think it is something that I will continue to carry with me throughout the rest of my life.”
While being involved with other extra-curricular activities, for Fontenot, FBLA is the on that most important. As she said, “It’s such an important club because, unlike other clubs, it teaches you skills and, depending on what competition you’re doing, teaches you different things that you’ll definitely use in your life. You’re not just doing activities and playing games, but you’re taking tests about real things that are going to help you in the future.”
She concluded, “At one of our district competitions this year, the superintendent of Winn Parish schools spoke and said he competed in Parliamentary Procedure when he was in high school. Now he uses that every single time he conducts a meeting, so I think things like that are really important because you see how much FBLA really impacts people later in life.”
While having two state FBLA officers at the same time is an unusual feat for Evangeline Parish, what is more unusual is that every school in the parish are sending students to the state competition later this month.
The following members from Basile High School will be attending the FBLA State Convention: Jose Palacois in Introduction to Business; Moriah Veillon for Journalism; Tara Fontenot and Wesley LeJeune for Agribusiness; Caitlynn Deshotels for Business Calculations; Cameron Berzas and Gavin Christ for Business Communications; Conner Arnaud for Cyber Security; Jacey Manuel for Introduction to Information Technology; Isaac Cortez, Logan David, and Gabe Duplechin for Marketing; Dawson Ashford, Bubba Reed, and Jaylen Thomas for Sports and Entertainment Management; and Madison Miller for Word Processing.
The state competitors from Mamou are the following: Lauren Soileau, competing in Advertising; Joseph Mabe, competing in Introduction to Financial Math; Noah Reed, competing in Computer Applications; Abihail Patrick, competing in Entrepreneurship; Toriance Fontenot, competing in Entrepreneurship and Introduction to Parliamentary Procedures; Chloe Brinkley, competing in Spreadsheet Applications and Word Processing; Justin Fontenot, competing in Agribusiness; Carli Cain, competing in Business Ethics; Sylas Fontenot, competing in Global Business and Website Design; Ashlyn Foret, competing in Hospitality Management; Whittney Manuel, competing in Hospitality Management; Alyssa Lanthier, competing in Intro to Business Procedures and Intro to Business Communications; and Hannah Beene, competing in Website Design.
Joining Cort Fuller from Pine Prairie at the state level are fellow Panthers: Kayla Myers and Kaylee Ramsey in Accounting I and Hospitality Management, Jayla Blevins in Advertising, Allison Bordelon in Business Communications and Business Calculations, Veronica Bernal in Computer Applications and Journalism, Jillian Toussaint in Introduction to Business and Introduction to Business Communication, and Faith Fuller in Introduction to Business Procedures and Introduction to FBLA.
Joining Gabrielle Fontenot from Sacred Heart are: Catherine Bergeron, Kathryn Bergeron, Anna Grace Tuminaro, Wesley Launey, Garrett Fontenot, Samuel Gil, Madison Pitre, Sydni Ortego, Mackenzie Maier, Gabrielle Fontenot, Halie Fontenot, Lillyanne Brignac, Madison Maier, Caroline Reed, Darrelyn Lachney, Callie Pitre, Lucas Kincannon, Natalie LeBas, Julianne Reed, Kylie LeBas, Jacob Soileau, Jacques Leger, Lauren Shipp, Karina Parks, Jack LaHaye, Claudia Miller, Katherine Brown, Payton Floyed, Anna-Alyse Soileau, Elise Mire, Alyson Fontenot, Hallie Daire, Maria LaHaye, Alex Perron, Christian Duplechin, and Evan Veillon.
Attending the state competition from Ville Platte High School are: Caliah Guillory and McKenzie McClinton, Business Ethics Team Event; Imajah Doucet, Computer Applications; Emily Wilson, Computer Applications; Logan Frank, Health Care Administration; McKenzie McClinton, Introduction to Business Communications; Caliah Guillory, Introduction to Financial Math; Imajah Doucet, Organizational Leadership; Colby Lafleur, Organizational Leadership; Aletra Griffith, Personal Finance; Colby LaFleur, Personal Finance; and Loghan Frank, Word Processing.