Three Spring Lake Park High School boys headed to FCCLA national conference

It’s not often that you’ll find three boys dressed in veggie costumes – specifically a banana, carrot and celery stick – talking to kids about healthy eating.

FCCLA students who won golds and a silver at the state conference are: (back row) Jake Russell, Alex Pierce, Josh Anderson and Rick Osborne. Front row: Ryann Lynch, Rachel Eiler and Ashley Murray. Emma Hadziefendic is not pictured. Photo by Elyse Kaner
FCCLA students who won golds and a silver at the state conference are: (back row) Jake Russell, Alex Pierce, Josh Anderson and Rick Osborne. Front row: Ryann Lynch, Rachel Eiler and Ashley Murray. Emma Hadziefendic is not pictured. Photo by Elyse Kaner

But that’s part of what cemented a gold for the three teens who advance to a national youth leadership conference in Florida where they will compete against America’s best.

Ninth-graders Josh Anderson, Rick Osborne and Alex Pierce were among Spring Lake Park High School’s gold winners in the FCCLA annual state conference held April 19-21 in Bloomington. This is their first year as members of the organization.

Judges scored the three boys at 99.6 percent for their project, Focus on Children, centering on the importance of healthy eating and exercise.

The boys worked with elementary children after school in Park Terrace’s Learning Ventures program.

In total, Spring Lake Park’s FCCLA students garnered seven golds and one silver at the conference.

The students also took home a chapter trophy for winning golds in three or more event categories.

‘We came so far’

“This would be the first boys that have advanced to nationals,” said FCCLA advisor Lori Henry.

The boys were amazed, proud and shocked at the win.

“We came so far in our projects,” said Rick, who was elected FCCLA Region 4 president at the convention.

For their project the boys read stories to the children. They played team games to develop their large motor skills and they presented a skit, in which they dressed up in vegetable costumes and acted out a lesson on eating healthily.

Additionally, they helped the students create fruit and vegetable puppets out of paper. And they provided bananas and apples as healthy fruit snacks for an after school treat.

“They’re much more aware now,” Rick said. “They’ll be better off in life and feel better and eat healthy.”

The boys taught the kids in five visits. They had to have well planned lessons and to be organized, they said.

Josh learned teachers need to keep students actively involved to earn their attention. You can’t talk all the time, he said. Thus, the gym games and veggie outfits. They also did a bit of arts and crafts together.

“We worked so hard on our project, it just paid off,” Anderson said.

Alex was amazed at how respectful the dozen Learner Ventures children were.

For him the best part of the project was “teaching the kids about something that means a lot.”

The boys met at 7:15 a.m. at SLPHS to practice their speech presentation for state. Their early morning practices paid off.

“This is a unique opportunity and to be able to achieve that as first-year members is remarkable,” Henry said, about the ninth-graders advancing to nationals.

Attending the conference offers students a chance to network, check out displays and acquire project and fund-raising ideas. In addition to competing, students also hear speakers and attend leadership workshop sessions.

Cost for the trip and national conference in Orlando, Fla., in July is about $1,000 per person. FCCLA members will sell candy bars and ice cream in the school cafeteria to raise funds. They will also contact local businesses and organizations seeking donations.

Gold and silver winners

In addition to the Focus on Children project gold winners, other SLP state winners were: Gold, sophomore Ryann Lynch and senior Rachel Eiler, project on advocating for a later school start time; and seniors Ashley Murray and Emma Hadziefendic, chapter service manual-scrapbook of the FCCLA’s projects throughout the year.

Senior Jake Russell scored a silver in the Math Test category.

The Spring Lake Park FCCLA chapter has 27 members – six boys and 21 girls.

The SLP chapter recently learned it was selected as national high school award winner for Career Connections. As part of connections, the SLP chapter will have a display in the exhibit hall at nationals called Spotlight on Projects. The display will showcase a Career Paths project group members created last November. The chapter will accept a plaque and $1,000 at the national conference.

As for the Focus on Children project, among the judges comments were “creative,” and “unique,” the boys said.

“We’re hoping to improve on everything the judges said and do it the best we can,” Rick said.

“And try to win,” Alex added.

The national FCCLA organization was founded initially at a convention in Chicago in 1945 as Future Homemakers of America.

The organization now helps young men and women become leaders by addressing important personal, family, work and societal issues through family and consumer sciences education.

Nationally, the group has more than 205,000 members. FCCLA has nearly 6,500 chapters from 50 state associations and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Elyse Kaner is at [email protected]