WALLENPAUPACK - Last year, many students might have been drawn to Adam Sands for his wild hair and catchy campaign slogan. Once elected Pennsylvania Vice President at Large for the state chapter of the Future Business Leaders of America however, there was more to the junior then being “In good hands with Adams Sands” because the junior from Wallenpaupack Area High School was committed to achieving his goals. Now that Sands’ term is complete, he spoke to The News Eagle about the many highlights and few obstacles of his uncharted political trip.    

The year was simply “amazing,” Sands exclaimed because the “opportunities were unreal” as he traveled to Georgia where he was able to “experience everything” that included campaigning and learning how to wave, plus more. As well, the many people he met was exciting as there were corporate executives and back home, when the lieutenant governor visited the district, Sands was one of the students that led him on a tour.

One of Sands’ primary objectives was to create an FBLA Middle School chapter, and now, that is nearly set. With Wallenpaupack administrators on board, the next step is finding the right advisor within the district to lead the students. Having gained insight about his own interests through his involvement in FBLA, Sands believes a middle school chapter will help students as they prepare for high school when choosing electives he said. There is also the social aspect, as Sands has gained many friendships through the club.

For the state project, in collaboration with students from across Pennsylvania $50,000 was raised for the National Kidney Foundation; with $3,000 coming from Wallenpaupack after students hosted the first ever “Teachers Got Talent.” The Wallenpaupack students’ sum put them at the third highest collection in the state overall. From that, Sands said, “It’s good to give back.”

With a year left in the FBLA, Sands is working towards getting more students involved, which he believes is possible as there are 27 chapters in the state with 13,900 members now, which increased by 400 students from the year before. With a year to go, Sands said getting 14,000 students involved will be achieved.   

Going into the position as PA VP at Large was new for not only Sands, but also Club Advisors Melissa Monte and Colleen Edwards. Monte who has been an advisor for six years had never had a student attempt such a venture within the FBLA. Together, Sands said they decided to go for it, despite having to “learn quickly” as he was elected and then just six weeks later there were workshops to attend with paperwork and meetings. Of it all, Sands said, it was a “great opportunity” to learn more.

Most recently, Sands was elected by his peers from across the state to be the Pennsylvania Treasurer. It is because of his confidence in math, that Sands felt state treasurer would be a good position he said. As state treasurer, Sands is responsible for all of the funds from the state project that could be as much as $50,000.

In addition to being the state treasurer, Sands wants to do more and so, he is running to join the national officer team as the Eastern Region Vice President that encompasses most of the New England states. Sands will learn his fate during the national leadership conference in California in July. With so much set to happen during his senior year, Sands isn’t concerned, but rather he asks “why not?” since he will never be in high school again.  

From the beginning, Sands was pretty sure he would enjoy being PA VP at Large, because “it felt right” he said. Plus, he enjoys being a leader and the attention that comes with the role. Although being a leader to so many was new for Sands, he didn’t mind as there were students wanting their photos taken with him. Today, Sands said the key to being a good leader is having confidence. His own confidence, Sands isn’t sure where it comes from, but he did ask, “why be scared?”

The greatest challenge from the year, Sands said was staying on the “same page” as Monte since neither of them had been in such positions and at one point, he was responsible for tee-shirt sales, designing fliers and brochures for the state leadership conference. It all came down to “living and learning” though, and with that experience behind them, it was “awesome.”  

There has been so much learned this year, but one thing Sands realizes he must be more organized. Part of that lesson came from a time when he lost a required tie and then a binder. The greatest oops of the year happened when he forgot the state flag at home, which was problematic since he realized it while on his way to a conference.

The continued support from the district is something Sands expressed great appreciation for. He was especially proud that, of the district’s years involved in the FBLA, it was the first time Superintendent Michael Silsby attended a state conference in Hershey, where he had dinner with Sands and his family, but also saw the success of the students as it was announced then that 24 Wallenpaupck students were going to the nationals in California.

In an email, Silsby said Sands is a “fine young man” who has represented the district with “honor and distinction” while also stepping “outside the box” as he has worked hard for others. Seeing the student leaders when in Hershey, Silsby was impressed because it was clear that they are in positions that require hard work and dedication. This experience as a leader is something Silsby feels will “serve Adam well in life.” He concluded that, “As a District we could not be more prouder of Adam and wish him the best as he serves his fellow FBLA students next year.”

Monte’s continued support has especially meant a lot to Sands, as she has stuck by his side despite having “no idea what we were doing” and together they “figured it out and were successful” which he said he is very proud of. As well, she continues to be as excited for the next event while also committed to all of the students. Together with Edwards becoming an advisor this year, the two educators have done “an amazing job.”

With the year behind them, Monte said the most rewarding part of the experience was watching Sands “grow as a person” and getting to know the other students on the state officer team. Since he first took office, Sands’ responsibilities have tripled and despite the work, he has met his “duties with ease.” When Monte would ask Sands if he completed various tasks throughout the year, each time he had, and he would say, ‘Relax Mrs. Monte, I got this.’ Through it all, Monte said Sands’ made her “proud time and time again.”

Of it all, Sands said it’s the friendships he’s had and gained that have been the best part of the year. He is however, happy about how well known the Wallenpaupack chapter has become, because he cannot “forget where I came from” and is pleased with his Wallenpaupack peers. “To says I come from Wallenpaupack” is gratifying since the district is known at the state level and seven years ago, just three students attended the state conference. Today though, “we’re 127 strong.”