New Castle News

Closer Look

March 23, 2014

Laurel captures Business Olympics title for 13th straight year

NEW CASTLE — In the hallway outside Room 18 of Erie Business Center South, Abby Shepherd waited for her name to be called.

Shepherd, of Laurel High School, was participating — along with 125 other area senior high school students — in the center’s annual Business Olympics.

“Eighteen is my lucky number,” Shepherd confessed as she held the one note card that was allowed for her five-minute public speaking presentation. “I was born on March 18.”

The topic, which was assigned to all who participated in that segment, was foreign versus domestic adoption.

Poised and confident, Shepherd’s strategy was to memorize facts, but said the pressure was on because her school has won the competition for at least the past 12 years.

In the end, Laurel did it again and received a trophy based on earning the highest point total. And Shepherd placed third in her category.

The Business Olympics for high school seniors has been conducted at Erie Business Center South for about 15 years, said director Karen Musolino.

Besides public speaking, the students competed in accounting, Power Point, business math, business communications, computer applications, business law, word processing and geography.

Neshannock, Wilmington, Lincoln, Farrell, Sharon and West Middlesex high schools and Lawrence County Career and Technical Center also participated.

Gabriella Giangiuli of Neshannock, who plans to attend Duquesne University, had just finished competing in business communications — a computerized test.

“I looked for the chance to be a teen-ager in the business world,” Giangiuli noted. “In between times, we get to meet and mingle with students from other schools. This teaches us life lessons.”

Cynthia Welker, business teacher at Neshannock, said her school had 17 students testing in five or six subject areas.

Spencer Pullium of Laurel, tested in business math, which, he said is applicable for buying a car or paying a mortgage.

Valerie Simko, also of Laurel, said knowing correct grammar comes naturally to her so she chose business communications as her topic and wound up in second place.

Each first, second- and third- place winner received a plaque.  

“This is one of the biggest years we’ve had,” Musolino said.

Admissions representatives Brenda Bell and Audrey Varrati helped organize the Business Olympics, and Helmut Kraus was emcee.

“We’re exposing the school to students who can receive associate degrees and diploma programs,” Musolino continued, adding the event offered the opportunity for participants to dress professionally and get recognized in the areas in which they excel.

The day was also about fun. There was a breakfast and lunch, and Sam Tonelli of DJ/Karaoke Entertainment had tunes for those waiting their turn to be tested.

Each school will hold an assembly to honor those who received awards at the scholastic event.

Musolino said those who placed in the top three now have the opportunity to apply for the Erie Business Center South’s Business Olympics scholarship.

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