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Three students at Riverdale High take first at national competition

August 23, 2017
By ERIC DeVAUX ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Three of Riverdale High School's Future Business Leaders of America students recently took top honors in the social media campaign category at the National Leadership Conference.

After finishing third in the state championship, the three-member team - made up of Daniela Jang, Sunghee Kim and Lauren Brashear - scored first place at nationals, held in Anaheim, California.

It was a long road to the win for sophomores.

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Riverdale High School students Daniela Jang, Sunghee Kim and Lauren Brashear.

"My teammates and I put in the equal amount of work," Daniela said.

The girls had to be mentally focused on their goals.

"They were extremely driven to improve up what they did at the state leadership conference to win at nationals," assistant advisor Ryan White said.

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Emotions drove Daniela and the girls throughout the tournament, starting at the state level.

"I remember that right before our preliminaries at the state level, I was freaking out outside," she said. "One of my partners was like, 'Calm down,' and Ryan came in and was like, 'Just calm down, you got this.' I went in and I practiced so hard and I had my lines memorized. I went into auto-pilot. When I came out, I was on the verge of tears."

The objective was to create buzz for a new TV show through three social media platforms.

"They really knocked it out of the park," White said. "They had to know the statistics of each one of the sites and different research behind why they were choosing each one of the sites and how well they would reach the target market."

The team decided to choose YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.

"They told us that it had to be a movie, TV show or documentary that had to be G-rated," Daniela said. "We decided cooking shows, which is a great general outline and it's G-rated. We found out the main age group that watches YouTube, which was 35- to 45-year-olds. This age group generally uses Facebook, so we chose Facebook. We were not going to limit ourselves just to this audience. We want to try and expand as much as we can. That's when we put in Instagram."

They had help from advisor Ileane Flores, White, Riverdale High teacher Joan Starr and chaperone Charlie Flores, along with 12 additional chapter members who also competed.

"We are there to guide and help the kids at any point where they might need it," White said.

At the beginning of the school year, students join the student-run club. To join, it requires a $30 fee which registers them to compete.

"There is no class for this," White said. "They did all this on their free time."

To eventually get to the national conference, students have to compete at the district level. After they win, students go to the state level to represent their district. Then, they enter nationals.

"At districts, you root for your school," White said. "State, you root for your district. National, you root for your state."

The Riverdale team had to raise money to get their club to California for the conference.

"They had to raise almost $20,000 on their own," White said. "We went around to businesses and asked for donations from the community. They fundraised as much they could."

There was about 17,000 students at nationals, coming from all 50 states and three others from Canada, China and Haiti. Among countless teams, close to 93 students came from Florida to compete.

At the conference, they have guest speakers and workshops to help the competitors learn better leadership skills.

Trophies go to the top 10 teams.

Riverdale is preparing for the upcoming year, with the hope of returning to nationals.

"We're just getting ready to start our club. Our first meeting is Aug. 24," White said. "We're getting ready to start our year over again."



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