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Three Fairfield students advance to state leadership contest

Fairfield High School juniors Sarah McAvan, left, and Danielle Breen and Sarah McAvan placed first in business ethics at the district FBLA contest, and have advanced to the state competition April 1-2. (Photo courtesy of Deborah Matthews)
Fairfield High School juniors Sarah McAvan, left, and Danielle Breen and Sarah McAvan placed first in business ethics at the district FBLA contest, and have advanced to the state competition April 1-2. (Photo courtesy of Deborah Matthews)
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FAIRFIELD — Three Fairfield High School students have advanced to the state competition in Future Business Leaders of America.

Fairfield’s FBLA chapter sent three of its members to the virtual regional conference on Jan. 30, and they all came away with first-place finishes. Danielle Breen and Sarah McAvan placed first in business ethics, and Grant Ward was the top performer in impromptu speaking.

Breen, the daughter of Dan and Tina Breen, is a junior in her third year in the program, while McAvan, the daughter of Patrick and Melissa McAvan, is a junior but in her first year as a member of FBLA. The two girls said they chose to compete in the business ethics category because they liked this year’s topic, which was about social media.

For their contest, Breen and McAvan were asked to dive deep into the growth of social media companies and explore whether they are running afoul of antitrust laws. The two said the biggest challenge this year was the unusual nature of the competition, being held entirely online. Instead of presenting to a panel of judges, McAvan and Breen recorded their presentation, which they tried to make as professional as possible.

They said they put a lot of time and effort into their presentation, so it did not come as a surprise to them that they had earned top honors. Nevertheless, they are eager to improve the presentation even more based on the judge’s feedback so they can do even better when they compete at state April 1-2, also online.

Ward, the son of Beth and Geoff Ward, is a junior in his third year in the program. He chose to compete in impromptu speaking because he planned to do it last year but the contest was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Contestants in impromptu speaking are given a topic and just 10 minutes during which to research the subject and prepare a basic speech. Then they have three to four minutes in which to deliver the speech. They are judged on both the content of their speech and their poise in delivering it.

“The most challenging part of impromptu speaking for me was building up the courage to do my speech,” Ward said. “It can be scary to speak in front of others for me, and because of that, it made it hard to start speaking.”

Ward said his victory in the category came as a “big surprise.”

“I didn’t expect to win at all, and I was very happy that I did,” he said.

If Ward can place at the state competition, he would go onto nationals, which will be held from June 24 to July 2.

“I believe it would be awesome to have a chance to do impromptu speaking at nationals,” Ward said.