Albert Gallatin senior achieves state's top honor in FBLA

| Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013, 10:25 p.m.

What's red and will be in demand on Valentine's Day at Albert Gallatin High School?

Why, blood, of course, and it has nothing to do with Count Vlad Dracul! With high school graduation day a short six months away and designs on majoring in pharmacy in college, Albert Gallatin senior Austin Pegg selected a senior project with which to introduce him to a career in the medical field. In September, he coordinated a Red Cross blood drive at the school, collecting 80 units of the valuable commodity, with a second drive in the works.

“Planning for the event is already in progress,” Pegg said. “I've spoken with juniors and seniors in school about the need for donations, and the response has been very positive. I know I want to pursue a career in the medical field and pharmacy appears to be the route right now. It's obvious that people rely on blood donations and the available supply is often limited. Organizations such as the Red Cross are always seeking donors, so I developed a senior project that would benefit as many people as possible.”

Even though Pegg's goal was 100 units, the Red Cross was more than satisfied with the results, he noted, and “Valentine's Day seemed to be the appropriate time for another blood drive.”

But as successful as he has been with that project, Pegg's middle name may just as well be “Business” as he is all business with his mountain of academic subjects, as well as his success in business subjects at the school.

Last spring, Pegg placed first in a business communication competition, outdistancing 91 other students in the statewide Pennsylvania Future Business Leaders of America challenge. He recently copped another first-place honor, in business procedures, in regional competition held at Penn Commercial Business School in Washington, Pa. His showing in Washington qualified him for a return trip to the Pennsylvania state FBLA meet in April, where he will compete in Business Procedures.

Pegg has advanced to the state FBLA competition each of his four years at Albert Gallatin. As a junior, he was the only student in his regional competition to place among the top three in Pennsylvania to qualify for the nationals in San Antonio last summer.

“It is quite rare for a student to qualify for the national FBLA competition,” said Albert Gallatin Business Education teacher Karla Lent, who has been the school's FBLA adviser for nine years. Pegg is actually Lent's second student to reach the national level, with Claudia Jordan achieving the feat in 2010. “Some business teachers/advisers never have a student advance to national competition, so we have been fortunate at Albert Gallatin to have had two in just several years.”

As a freshman, Pegg secured a berth in the state competition via his regional showing in Business Math. As a sophomore, Pegg won the top spot at regionals in business communications, earning a second trip to the statewide competition. His experience both years led to his junior-year success at the state level in business communications, and the trip to San Antonio, where he and other contestants were treated with a visit to the Alamo and the nationally famous Riverwalk. In April, he will participate in business procedures at the Pennsylvania competition. Anaheim will again host the national FBLA confab this summer.

Ironically, because of Pegg's workload of honors and Advanced Placement classes — a straight-A student and ranked first in his senior class, Pegg's grade average the first quarter this year was 4.8, while his overall grade average in high school is 4.5 — he has been enrolled in only one of Lent's classes, computer applications, as a freshman.

“Austin is an exemplary student,” Lent said, adding that Pegg is president of Albert Gallatin's FBLA Club and vice president of the school's National Honor Society. “He goes over and beyond what the average student does and, even though he has taken only one business class, has been a member of the FBLA all four years in high school.”

Pegg, a member of the Young Astronauts physics program for Honors and AP physics students, Academic League team, and National Honor Society, has had only one business class. He prepares on his own for the state competition, which he found challenging, but not as challenging as the national competition, because of the higher caliber of students from all over the nation taking the test.

Pegg's competitive nature finds him on the Colonials' basketball team, where he is the squad's tallest and strongest player, coach Shea Fleenor said, referring to Pegg's 6-foot-4 height.

Earning his stripes on the ninth-grade and junior varsity teams, Pegg scored a career-high 12 points against Laurel Highlands last season. He, however, is planning on improving on that figure this season.

Les Harvath is a freelance writer.

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