CHITTENDEN SOUTHThe Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) at Champlain Valley Union High School has been a standout group since it was formed in 1998, and Tamie-Jo Dickinson is one self-described proud advisor for the CVU FBLA. Not only was the group recently recognized with many awards at the spring conference, but this years chapter has taken on a unique opportunity to provide for one of their own--a former CVU student and his platoon in Iraq. At the Vermont FBLA spring conference in early April, CVU students won a host of awards in all areas, including a second place for Outstanding Chapter in the state. Dickinson said the group always does an incredible job at this conference, noting that each FBLA member represented the group in a professional and respectful way, and extended a special congratulations to newly elected officers: Kathryn Holmberg, state FBLA northern vice president; Brittany Brogna, state FBLA secretary; and Anna Speidal, state FBLA historian. Additionally, Tamie-Jo Dickinson, who serves as the CVU advisor as well as the state officer advisor, was also chosen as the Vermont FBLA Advisor of the Year, an award selected by other Vermont FBLA advisors. In addition to the groups outstanding showing at the conference, the CVU FBLA has committed to sending care packages to a platoon in Iraq, which includes former CVU student Doug Ferreira. The chapters goal is to send three different shipments before the end of the school year, beginning with the first shipment which went out in early March and current efforts to raise items for the next two. Ferreira, who is now the commander of a Marine Rifle Platoon, contacted the CVU FBLA in January, said Dickinson, and informed the group of a seven-month stint he and his platoon were about to embark on in Iraq. Knowing that community service is at the top of the list for the chapters goals, Ferreira asked the schools FBLA to sponsor them. The request was one they gladly took on, said Dickinson, and viewed it as an opportunity to raise awareness and involvement in our FBLA and CVU community. Since then, sponsoring Ferreira and his platoon has been the center of the FBLAs community service. When brainstorming ways to provide needed items for the troops, students in the FBLA decided to sponsor a movie night at the school featuring the documentary, Why We Fight on Feb. 7. Collecting cash and material items as admission to the film, the students were able to garner enough items to make their first shipment of six boxes sent out on March 1. The shipment included a list of goods Ferreira said they might need and included: magazines, coffee, powdered Gatorade, hand wipes, and more. Due to the success of their first effort and the support from the surrounding communities, the CVU FBLA decided to send two more shipments before the end of the school year, the next of which will be a competition between the schools advisories resulting in ice-cream compliments of the FBLA for the advisory that brings in the most items. For the third and last shipment of the year, the group plans to place drop off boxes at each of the town halls and elementary schools in the district, including Shelburne, Charlotte, Hinesburg, and Williston locations. Dickinson said they plan to have all shipments packed and shipped by May 29 at the latest. While the FBLA strives to make valuable contributions to the community, it is also a student organization that helps to build leadership skills. Students teach adult computer classes, work as business interns for the ACCESS to CVU program, make meals for the Ronald McDonald House, raise funds for the March of Dimes, and many other activities, said Dickinson. While she is already proud of the accomplishments of the schools FBLA, Dickinson now has another great one to add to the list. The goal of CVU FBLA has always been community service, and this project allowed us to branch outside our local community and truly make a difference, said Dickinson. I am always proud to see how each year the group finds ways to serve the community that are uniquely their own.