After recently attending and competing at the 61st annual Pennsylvania Future Business Leaders of America State Leadership Conference, Oxford Area High School seniors Joe Cosentino and Megan Harvey qualified for the FBLA National Leadership Conference to be held June 29 to July 2 in San Antonio, Texas.

Joe, son of Marjorie and Lou Cosentino, qualified for the national conference by placing second in Pennsylvania in the Computer Game & Simulation Programming competition. Megan, daughter of Linda and James Harvey, qualified for the conference by placing third in the state in the Job Interview competition. Megan, however, will not be able to attend the conference as she will begin her appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy on June 27.

Twenty-one members of the Oxford FBLA were among the approximately 3,800 FBLA members from high schools across Pennsylvania who attended the conference. The students qualified to attend and compete at the conference after placing first through fourth in competition at the Pennsylvania FBLA Region 9 Competition hosted by the Oxford chapter in December.

The chapter's attendance at the state conference was made possible through the support of local businesses and individuals including Country Chrysler, the Oxford PT0 through its Market Day program, Cameron's True Value Hardware, Mrs. Marsue Lewis, Herr Foods, Inc., Sun East Federal Credit Union and Prudential Fox & Roach.

Also turning in excellent showings at the state conference were senior Alex Wharton, fourth place in Computer Applications; sophomore Erin Reph, seventh place in FBLA Principles and Procedures; senior Michaela Quigley, eighth place in the Ms. FBLA competition; and the team of seniors Stephanie Kruzynski and Ashley Gatlos, eighth place in the Community Service Project category. In the Open Competitive Events, for which all attendees are eligible, Joe Cosentino earned eighth place in the HTML competition.

'Students who finish in the top 10 of any of the competitive categories are considered among the best high school business students in Pennsylvania,' said Kimberly Webber, FBLA chapter co-advisor along with Suzy Liljestrand.

Additionally, the Oxford FBLA chapter was presented with a Gold Seal Award of Merit.

Although her service to our country will keep her from attending the National Leadership Conference, Megan credited her Naval Academy interviews with helping her prepare for the regional and state FBLA competitions. Several of the questions she was asked at the Naval Academy involved how she would act when confronted with moral situations, such as following the Academy's Code of Honor when called for, as well as her views on following orders and respecting authority.

The FBLA's Job Interview event required participants to apply for a position in the field of their choice, with Megan choosing international sales associate. Megan then wrote a resume and cover letter to be sent to the fictitious company that would be interviewing her.

Megan said the 15-minute FBLA interview was somewhat less intense than her Naval Academy interviews, with questions ranging from school activities to community service and even whether Megan had 'liked' the company's Facebook page. 'In both cases I was interviewed by about five people at once,' she said. 'I gained a lot of confidence from the Naval Academy interviews that definitely helped me in the FBLA events. I also got a lot of good pointers from my mom, who works in human resources.'

As the Computer Game & Simulation Programming event is not part of the FBLA's regional competitions, Joe was one of 10 finalists who presented their entries for the first time at the state level. 'We had to create a computer game geared toward teenagers that also teaches financial literacy skills,' said Joe, whose senior year was his first as a member of the FBLA chapter.

Joe's computer game, 'Target Boss,' tests the player's skill at target shooting as well as his or her knowledge of financial matters. 'The idea is to rise up the company ladder of the Cosentino Corp. by hitting targets at five skill levels, then passing a finance-related quiz in order to advance to the next level,' he explained.

Using 3D game engine and computer modeling software and writing code in JavaScript, Joe spent 'three to four solid weeks' working on 'Target Boss,' the first time he had ever attempted to design a computer game. 'It was mind-boggling at first because I hadn't worked with these programs,' he said. 'I was just kind of teaching myself to do it. The process was nerve-wracking toward the end because the entry deadline was approaching and I wasn't completely satisfied with what I had done.'

Joe singlehandedly completed a project that is normally the work of a design team. 'I gained a real appreciation for what goes into designing a coherent game that looks good and is fun to play,' he said 'I learned that game design is really an art.'

At the national FBLA conference, Joe will be among 5,000 chapter members from across the United States who will participate in a week of workshops, competitions, sightseeing and social events. Joe said he will be able to make adjustments to 'Target Boss' that he did not have time to complete for his state presentation.

Megan said she and the other Oxford chapter members were able to see Joe's seven-minute presentation at the state conference, which took place before five judges. 'It was kick-butt!' she said. 'The timing of Joe's explanation of the game and the game images being projected on the screen was perfect. We were so proud of him.'

'I was really happy to have the other chapter members there for the presentation,' said Joe. 'That gave me a lot of confidence and I wish everyone could also be at the national conference.'

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