ILWACO — When Ilwaco High School senior Jake Thorsen’s friends convinced him to join his school’s business club, he thought he’d build up his portfolio of film projects.
But before he knew it, he won first place at regionals, then fourth at state.
In June, Thorsen will travel to San Antonio, Texas for the national Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) competition. He’s the first student from Ilwaco to make it to nationals in FBLA.
“I worked so hard on the project,” Thorsen said. “I think because it’s a project that I dedicated so much time and effort into, I’ll do a lot better because I’ll be that much more confident.”
Thorsen’s project will compete against up to 199 other submissions. The top four projects from each state qualified for nationals.
“I’m nervous about everything that’s going on because it’s going to be such a huge amount of people, with so many schools and states,” Thorsen said.
His project is part of the digital video production competition. Thorsen had to create a video that explains what FBLA is, what Giving Tuesday is, and how FBLA would benefit from receiving donations.
Giving Tuesday is an annual fundraising holiday where people can donate to causes of their choice.
Creating the video wasn’t a quick process. Thorsen had to create a script, find actors for his project, film the video, and make edits. His video features fellow FBLA members dressed in suits, walking through Ilwaco’s halls as they describe how impactful FBLA and Giving Tuesday are.
“I never realized how many different things business surrounds. There’s so many different business opportunities,” Thorsen said. “FBLA students can get contacted by recruiters, colleges, job opportunities.”
Thorsen worked on the film with two other FBLA members but each dropped out of the competition at earlier stages.
The group originally had a month to create the film they presented at FBLA’s regional competition, which was held in Woodland.
“We weren’t really sure how well the project turned out but as soon as we went to regionals, we ended up winning first,” Thorsen said. “We just went off of what the project rules gave us and some example videos from previous winners.”
After regionals, Thorsen had about a month to make edits, add animation, and add different editing techniques.
“We didn’t have as much time as we were hoping for,” Thorsen said. “The second rendition wasn’t really what we wanted but we did what we had to do.”
At the state competition in Bellevue, Thorsen and then-project partner Evan Perez were up against 26 other schools, of which only four would move on to nationals.
In the first day of competition, half of the students were eliminated. Students couldn’t learn whether they qualified for nationals until the next morning around 5 a.m., when results were uploaded.
“We didn’t get a lot of sleep that night. We were really excited,” Thorsen said. “I set an alarm for exactly at 5 a.m. because I was that excited. As soon as I opened up the app, I saw that were on the list. I was so happy I woke up [Perez].”
The pair next had to go through another round of judges and competition, where they ultimately placed fourth statewide.
“We were a lot more confident and we gave them a lot of really nice answers,” Thorsen said.
Thorsen will compete in nationals at the end of June, just weeks after he graduates.
“In Bellevue, it was cool being in such a big city and having free time to walk around and check out the sites,” Thorsen said. “I’m really excited for San Antonio because that’s going to be awesome.”
Before the competition, Thorsen needs to fundraise about $400 more to pay for the trip. So far, he’s raised more than $2,000.
“A lot of the fundraising was just wearing a suit and going up to different businesses,” Thorsen said. “My dad even helped me get into a Rotary meeting, which was really cool. It was fun to explain the video, show it, and have them be excited.”
Donations can be addressed to Ilwaco High School FBLA or FBLA advisor Shannon McIntyre. Donations will be used for Thorsen’s travel expenses.
“I’m really excited. This is my first year at Ilwaco. Having a student go to the national competition is so awesome,” McIntyre said. “Hopefully we keep doing great things and going to nationals. It’s an amazing opportunity.”
Thorsen plans on working this summer to earn money for college. In fall, he’ll attend Portland State University to study film.