Congratulations  to Westerly’s Entrepreneurship Team for winning  2nd Place at the National Leadership Conference in Chicago, Il. July 2015

The following article was published on July 19, 2015 by Click here for full article.


WESTERLY — In a city renowned for its deep-dish pizza, architecture and museums, a trio from Westerly High School distinguished itself as one of the best Rhode Island has ever had.

Josh Turano, Carter White and Connor McGill, all entering their senior year at Westerly High, finished second in the national Future Business Leaders of America, or FBLA, championships in Chicago last month.

The entrepreneurship team competed against about 60 other squads from 46 states, Puerto Rico, China, Canada and Haiti, among others, and were edged out only by FBLA powerhouse Homestead High School in California for the top spot.

Westerly High’s finish was one of the highest finishes in the history of the state at the national competition and was the highest finish in the last 15 years. It was the first time in decades an FBLA team from the school earned a bid to the event.

“When it was announced we took second place, I remember at that moment looking down at my shoes, because it was bittersweet,” Turano, a 17-year-old, said. “But then I thought, no, this is a moment that we should be so proud of.

“We knew we had to stand out. The entire time we were in Chicago, and even on the plane flying out, we said, ‘Why not us.’”

After scoring high on a 100-question multiple-choice test, the team qualified for the Top 15. Turano, White and McGill had 20 minutes to prepare a landscaping business plan for a panel of judges. They covered everything from how to expand the business to creative marketing.

Judges called their plan, “revolutionary.”

“We were so hyped,” White, 17, said. “We all brought something different — I’m the creative one. Josh is personable, he’s great with people, and Connor is the brains.”

Added Connor, 16: “We wanted to bring more personality to our presentation, be the cool team from Rhode Island. Instead of preaching, we brought the judges into the conversation.”

Westerly High business teacher Ed Hathaway, who took over club-advising duties for the 2013-14 school year, assembled the entrepreneurship team. In total, eight students qualified for FBLA nationals.

“It was one of those moments as a teacher that was so inspirational,” Hathaway said of the team’s finish. “They stepped up to the challenge and what they achieved is truly remarkable. I can’t wait to start the school year and see what FBLA will do this year.”

Hathaway made it his mission to make FBLA relevant again on campus. Two years ago, the chapter had one official member.

This past school year, 40 members were officially registered online.

“We want to continue increasing membership and keep getting involved in the community,” McGill said. “We do the school store and sell the Turkey Day Game T-shirts.”

Toward the end of the school year, FBLA students also took part in the Snack Shack. Although spearheaded by the Culinary Arts program and instructor Jamie Finkelstein, who also is co-adviser of FBLA, students from both programs volunteered at the concession stand at the Westerly National Little League Trombino Sport Complex.

“I know from being involved in FBLA that the kids who did volunteer enjoyed it,” said McGill of the Snack Shack, which also helped the students going to nationals raise money for the trip, “as it provided a real world, experiential learning experience.”

This fall, students also want to have a fill-a-truck canned-food drive for the WARM Shelter.

“We want to get our hands on anything involving business or community service,” White said.

In Chicago, White enjoyed going to the Art Institute. McGill enjoyed the bike tour of the city, although he studied vocabulary throughout the adventure, and Turano appreciated just being in the city and its people.

“They were the nicest people I’ve ever met,” Turano said. “And the deep-dish pizza ... it was so good. Maybe we should start a deep-dish pizza place here in Westerly.”

The contact information for the editor is as follows