Three Tooele High School students took top state honors in a 2019 High School Business Language Competition at BYU in Provo on Feb. 22. The competition was hosted by the Brigham Young University Marriott School of Business.
The team of Hanna Bekkare, Jacob Sagers and Emma Frank placed first among teams from five Utah schools: Tooele High, West High, Wasatch Academy, Brighton High and Timpview High. West High took second place and Wasatch Academy took third.
Each of the students took home a $200 prize for their presentation.
To win the competition, the students created a business and marketing plan, aimed at young Japanese adults in Japan, for an outdoor gear company named Cotopaxi. They presented their plan in French to a panel of judges composed of BYU French professors and a business professor.
They were judged on knowledge and use of the French language, their presentation, and their business plan. All discussions were conducted in French and each student was required to present a part of the project for the judges. Each was also required to answer questions about their presentation in French.
“We all spoke equally in the presentation. In the questions with the judges we all responded at least once — the judges made sure of that,” Sagers said.
None of the three students have taken any business classes. They brainstormed ideas to determine the market, did research and created a marketing plan.
“We talked about different ideas, but they are the ones who ran with it,” said Cynthia Christensen, the students’ French teacher. “April Warby [THS business teacher] listened to the presentation and provided some feedback, but the ideas and presentation were all theirs.”
Sagers explained, “We self-taught ourselves business through online resources. We are all new to business and marketing plans. We did a survey and through our contacts got young Japanese adults to take it since they were the target market. … We were as prepared as we could be since we had only a month to prepare. We felt great about the win — we weren’t expecting it.”
At least two of the other competing schools are dual immersion French schools and West High also had a native French-speaking student. Tooele High School does not offer French immersion. Frank enrolled in fourth year French. She is a heritage French student — meaning that while English is Emma’s first language, her mother speaks French at home. Bekkare is a native French speaker who serves as a teacher’s assistant in the French 4 class. Sagers is enrolled in French 2.
BYU has hosted Spanish language skills competitions but for the first time, added French, Mandarin Chinese and Arabic competitions to the program this year. The Tooele high team looks forward to competing again next year.