Four Absegami High School students representing their chapter of Future Business Leaders of America attended the New Jersey FBLA Southern Region Summit Nov. 29 at Salem High School.

Along with about 200 other students from 15 high schools throughout the state, they participated in workshops, networking opportunities, team-building activities, peer-judged presentations, and a question-and-answer session with state Sen. Stephen Sweeney. 

Absegami sophomore Priya Parikh, the chapter's secretary, asked Sweeney, a sponsor of the bill to increase the minimum wage in New Jersey to $15 an hour, about the measure's potential affect on small businesses may not be able to pay their employees such a wage.

Sweeney said the $15 minimum wage would be phased in over five years. It would exclude high school students between the ages of 16 and 18, he said.

Absegami junior Akshay Sheth, the chapter president, asked Sweeney if there would be a high school graduation requirement in technology, such as coding. Sweeney said it was a very important topic and an excellent question, but did not offer any specifics on upcoming legislation relating to technology.

One of the final questions — one Sweeney said he "was waiting for" — came from Absegami sophomore Riya Somaiya, chapter treasurer, who asked for his thoughts on the legalization of marijuana. He said he supports the measure.

When asked to name his most successful piece of legislation, Sweeney said it was paid family leave.

The remainder of the morning had members from various chapters getting to know each other through FBLA bingo, a teamwork activity devising an "advisor gift," and a small-group marketing activity in which students had 10 minutes to create a commercial and present it to a panel of peer judges. The afternoon concluded with a closing session and luncheon.

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