A Pickerington High School North multimedia program is being represented by 11 students this week at a national leadership conference for budding business professionals.

During a Business Professionals of America State Leadership Conference March 14 and 15, a team of North seniors Michael Kelso, Lexi Nevin, Wyatt Rider and Anna Stanley received top honors in website design.

Also winning a state championship at the conference was a video-production team from the North program that included Canal Winchester High School junior Julien Martinez, and North juniors Enrique Cabotage, Matt Ferguson and Justen Turner.

Those feats earned the students a trip to Anaheim, California, May 1-5 for the Business Professionals of America National Leadership Conference to compete against students from throughout the country.

Additionally, North seniors Tye Hedderick, Kyle Mace and Rachel Rector were invited to participate at the conference's National Leadership Academy, which features a series of seminars, workshops and team-building activities to develop leadership skills.

This year is the 14th of the past 16 years that students from the North multimedia program have qualified for the national contest.

The two-year class is offered by North and taught by Doug Rider at the Eastland-Fairfield Career & Technical Schools. It seeks to develop students' abilities in concepts and such tasks as website design, video production and digital graphics.

"I'm obviously incredibly proud of this group," Rider said. "This was the first time that multimedia has had two teams win the state in the same year.

"To even get a chance to compete at the state level, they had to win our region first. Our region is very tough and I typically have all my juniors compete in website design team, but this year I decided to shake things up a bit and allow my students to pick the contest that they were most passionate about."

Rider acknowledged this year's victory was especially thrilling because Wyatt Rider is his son, and he said the seniors who qualified for and were invited to the national conference were talented and dedicated students who learned to work together to create their championship projects.

As for the qualifying projects, Wyatt Rider said, the website design team was tasked with creating a site that would lead students on a national trip through their conference in Washington, D.C.

"It's a travel site for students and teachers," he said. "We tried to use creative and modern graphic styles and create a visual flow that would set us apart from other, more traditional sites."

Kelso, a website-design teammate, said the team was able to create a professional website with just one year's experience.

"We all had our individual roles and tasks, but we all stayed on the same page and worked fluently together," he said.

The video-production team created an infomercial that promoted BPA during a certain time period, which, Martinez said, required the group to look at the organization's history.

"With a simple plot and infomercial needs, we incorporated these in unison with each other," he said. "We also wanted to make special scenes, such as our mirror scene. This scene had various masking and different shots in the same slot."

Turner, a video production team member, said the assignment for the project required outside-the-box thinking.

"We had to get creative in order to create something we thought would be original and interesting," Turner said.

"We did this by combining infomercial essentials with a story line to increase the appeal" and make it relatable to viewers, he said.

Members from both teams said they were glad they decided to take the two-year Multimedia class. They benefits, they said, ranged from the close-knit nature of the program's students, to how it presented different challenges throughout the two-years that helped them develop skills that apply to the global marketplace.

Cabotage said multimedia is his favorite class, adding there's healthy competition among students that pushes them to learn and perform at high levels.

"We're all also really close, so there's never a dull moment," he said. "The class itself is really flexible. It has structure, so you get a bit of experience in everything.

"However, you are also given the freedom to branch out towards your own interests and work at your own pace."

Ahead of this week's trip to California, the students said they were excited to travel and see sights such as Hollywood, the Santa Monica Pier and Disneyland. But they also were focused on the challenge the national competition was expected to offer, as well as the chance to interact with like-minded future business professionals.

"What I am most looking forward to in California is to get to see and meet other students from across the country who hold similar interest in media as we do, and I'm excited to be a part of that experience and environment," Turner said. "Most of all, I'm pumped to compete on a national level."