Jacob Jirak, a junior at Centre High School, took first place at the FBLA national conference in Annaheim, Calif.
Jacob Jirak, 16, of Ramona put Centre High School on the map when he took first place honors in a Future Business Leaders of America national competition.
More than 150 youth from across the country competed in the personal finance category.
After the testing, students were whittled down to 10, with Jirak and nine other finalists standing on stage, waiting to hear the outcome.
In order to capture the moment, Jirak?s brother, Seth, videotaped the ceremony.
Other family members, who traveled to California, also shared in the excitement of the moment when the winner?s name is called out.
With head bowed, Jirak listened intently as the announcer read off names one-by-one for third and then second.
When his name was called, he said he could hardly contain himself. Jacob was jumping up and down on the stage, Seth said.
?I never expected to even make it past regionals,? he said. ?It felt good (taking first in nationals).
With a trophy and $750 cash prize, Seth joked that Jacob is now the Jirak family?s financial adviser. In the fall, Jirak, a junior, said he will continue in FBLA and agreed to be a club officer. He also gave a lot of the credit for his success to his adviser, Lisa Beye.
?I knew Jacob was intelligent and right before district, I asked him to give it the competition a try,? she said.
Beye said the FBLA has an active chapter at Centre with 25 members. Putting it in perspective, 25 is about half the student body.
In 2005, FBLA placed in parliamentary procedures and Nell Hill in 2008 was a finalist in client services.But taking first place in nationals was something no other member had achieved in the 15-year history of the school?s club.
?I am extremely proud of him,? Beye said. ?He spent a lot of hours studying, and he competed against students from much larger schools specializing in business courses.?
Jirak said entering regionals was a last-minute decision.
?I wasn?t big into FFA, so FBLA was the other choice,? he said. When he took first at both regional and state, he found out he had qualified for nationals and had two weeks to get ready.
Against the odds, Jirak said he faced competitors where FBLA is more established.
?Personal finance is doing different things with money,? he said, such as budgeting, checking and savings account or making investments.?
Jirak even offered a market tip.
?I want to invest my winnings into a mutual fund at the end of July,? he said. ?I don?t want to dive in until then because the prices won?t be low enough.?
He also wanted to acknowledge his adviser, Lisa, and her husband, Bret Beye, who attended nationals.
?Theo Kassebaum and her mother, Jennifer, were also there,? he said.
?Theo competed in intro to parliamentary procedure.?
Beye said the difference between FFA and FBLA is that the latter centers around business. FFA is more into agricultural showing and judging.