For 50 years, the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) chapter at Wasatch High School (WHS) has a place where students can develop leadership skills, engage in community service and find a sense of belonging among their fellow members.

An international organization comprised of more than 230,000 members worldwide at the college, middle and high school levels, FBLA’s mission is centered around three ideals: Service, Education, and Progress.

It’s the service ideal that WHS students and staff actively embrace this time of year through the chapter’s long-standing “Sub for Santa” program, which has raised tens of thousands of dollars over the past few decades to give Christmas to 25 deserving local families every December.

According to Kristen DiStefano, WHS Business Teacher & FBLA Advisor, the Sub for Santa program, which operates in conjunction with Wasatch County Search & Rescue to help source the families to support, provides an excellent service leadership opportunity for students.

“It is so great for the students to be involved on so many levels,” Mrs. DiStefano said, noting the chapter members coordinate everything themselves, from raising money, to shopping for the gifts and wrapping the presents.

This year’s FBLA Sub for Santa has been led by 12th Grader Sydney H., who says she sees teachers encouraging students to consider the circumstances of less fortunate families by supporting the program, and it’s an act of kindness that bring happiness to both the students and the teachers.

“Over Christmas, people just want to give and want to share joy, and there is a joy that you receive from participating in a program like Sub for Santa,” Sydney said. “When they see these kids really initiating themselves to do good, it brings satisfaction for everyone because they’re helping other people.”

She said the program becomes particularly impactful to her and her fellow students when they see the effect it has on families whose students attend Wasatch.

“We do this to serve these families because we see the need, and we’ve noticed that it’s immediate here in our high school and within friends that are close to us,” Sydney explained. “It really hits home when you know that there’s people so close to you with those circumstances.”

When asked about the type of students who are a good fit for FBLA, club advisor Mrs. DiStefano says it can be a good fit for anyone in grades nine through 12 interested in making connections, engaging in service and developing leadership skills.

“So much of the world connects back to business that I feel like a lot of students can find something that is interesting and beneficial to them when they join FBLA,” Mrs. DiStefano said, adding, “FBLA offers its members the opportunity to not only compete in different business events and subjects but also gives students the chance to lead the club here at the high school while they also build leadership skills by competing at the state level and national level,” 

Wasatch Class of 2014 grad Luke Searle says his experience with FBLA helped him navigate being new to the Heber Valley as he entered high school, and continues to influence him as he moves forward in his career.

A current Wasatch County Council Member and business teacher at WHS, Mr. Searle recognizes that the path he’s now following as an elected official and educator embodies the FBLA goals of Service, Education and Progress, but says it all began by wanting to make worthwhile connections and friends.

Explaining that as a student, he chose to join FBLA at WHS both to help make new friends and because of its track record of success in competition, Mr. Searle eventually went on to serve as a state chapter representative and then president.

“Once I had gone to a competition, I did find those friends and I was successful in competing and really caught that fire that I could go and do anything that I wanted,” he said. “It such a good opportunity to have these experiences and know that I could do this in my life.”

While he was a student at WHS, Mr. Searle worked closely with State Representative Kraig Powell to create and present H.B. 282, a bill that allows 16 and 17 year olds to work as poll workers and also prohibits family members of candidates on the ballot to work as poll workers. He says that experience, which culminated in then Governor Gary Herbert traveling to Wasatch to sign the bill into law, was rooted in his experiences in FBLA.

“There are people in your life that come, that mentor you, that show you things that you’ve never thought about before,” Mr. Searle explained. “When I had the opportunity to help younger people be even more involved, I jumped at that opportunity, and based on my experience with FBLA, I knew I could do it.”

Current Wasatch FBLA President Abigail W. agrees, noting that she joined FBLA because she believed it would provide her with the confidence, friendship, and tools she could use in her future career.

“FBLA gives you so many skills,” she said. “You’re always going to need to know how to have confidence. You’re always going to need to know how to work with people and how to solve critical problems. And FBLA puts you in those situations before you actually experience them so that you can learn how to work them out and how to gain those skills before you go into the real world.”

While building leadership ability has been an important takeaway for Abigail, it’s the interpersonal skills she most values from her involvement with the club.
“It’s taught me how to work with other people, and I know that I’m going to use that leadership experience the rest of my life,” she said.

It’s this opportunity to connect with other students that FBLA Vice-President Antonia D. highlights when talking about why she joined the club, explaining that she’s found it to be a perfect blend of gaining practical experience for the future and enjoying the present with bonding activities like overnight competitions.

She also pointed out that the experience has been invaluable as she gets ready to continue her post-secondary studies. “As I’m preparing to go to college, FBLA has been a huge advantage because it’s taught me how to work in a team,” Antonia said.

For more information and updates about Wasatch FBLA, visit