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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Cottonwood FCCLA students to compete at nationals, five place at state

May 29, 2022 12:42PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Two Cottonwood High Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America club members will be competing for national titles in June after they, and three of their teammates, brought home state medals.

Seniors Georgia Barrus and Lily Lundeen will be representing their school June 29 through July 3 in San Diego in the leadership STAR (Students Taking Action with Recognition) competitive event. Barrus took gold at state and Lundeen, silver.

“We’re both pretty excited to go to nationals together,” Barrus said.

In fashion construction, Mariana Labrador, Sara Sandusky and Annalyse Staker earned silver medals at state. They each sewed different outfits, created presentations that outlined their concepts and process they learned and were able to wear them at the state competition.

FCCLA is a club associated with family consumer sciences and helps youth expand their leadership potential and develop skills for life, such as planning, goal-setting, decision-making and interpersonal communication.

As part of the club, Cottonwood’s 25 FCCLA members have focused on service and often have teamed up with other clubs to do projects, such as the school’s version of Festival of Trees, trunk-or-treat and a thank-you letter campaign to teachers, said Zahaia Cuevas, the club’s first-year adviser and second-year family and consumer sciences teacher.

“We do a lot of community and school-wide service projects,” she said. “We’re teaching students they can make a positive impact in the community, even if it’s by doing something small like writing a thank-you.”

Since November, FCCLA students could begin preparing for competition.

In the leadership category, Barrus and Lundeen were able to talk about their leadership experience they’ve gained through their high school years, show how they set goals and worked to meet them, give examples of leaders they admire, and complete a self-inventory of their leadership skills and provide it to other leaders to evaluate them.

Lundeen, a Girl Scout, used that as a base of her presentation, Barrus said.

“She was able to really talk about all her Girl Scout leadership experience into her presentation,” Barrus said.

Lundeen, who oversees her chapter’s social media, also brought in communication, social media and time management goals into her event, Cuevas said.

Barrus shared about her five years of experience in mountain biking, including being captain this year; her presidency in both FCCLA and in Cottonwood’s National Honors Society presidency; her internship at a nearby elementary school; and her part-time jobs.

After region in February, which was changed to a district-wide competition during the high transmission rate of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, Barrus said she wasn’t sure about her presentation.

“The judges gave me notes to reflect on and what to improve so I looked at those. Honestly, I didn’t really think it would go far and because I wasn’t sure if my presentation was good,” she said. “But I really am passionate about it and so I just thought I’m going to see what I can do since I really care about it.”

One piece of advice Barrus said was that she referred to her slides too much since the judges already had read through her presentation beforehand.

“They just wanted to hear my thoughts on it. So that’s what I did for state. I talked what I was involved in and the more I shared, the more I got into it. I talked about how I’m a leader. I talked about mountain biking and how I wasn’t first in every race, but I love it because it encourages me to try my best at every practice and race. I shared with them how I would always try to make sure we’re being inclusive and welcoming with FCCLA and NHS meetings. I talked about how communication is a great part of being a leader and how I used it with my part-time jobs how I work with the public. I talked about my internship and about wanting to be an educator is helping me become a leader in the classroom,” Barrus said.

When she got flashed a one-minute warning in her 10-minute state presentation, Barrus realized she was only half-way through her presentation.

“I jumped to my summary and just talked about how and why leadership affected my life. I just talked about all my achievements and how it has helped make me a great leader. I quoted John Wooden, ‘Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be’ —and honestly, that’s the main point. I showed how a leader blossoms. I talked about as a freshman, I was experimenting and trying to figure out what I liked in school, and now as a senior, I’m in full bloom like a flower and have just grown in so many ways,” she said.

As a freshman, Barrus joined FCCLA after learning about it from a teacher.

“I decided it was the best thing ever. I competed my sophomore year in event management and earned gold at region, but then, state got canceled for COVID in 2020,” she said, adding that Cottonwood didn’t compete last year.

After competing at state March 22-23 this year, Barrus was called to stage as the first-place finisher.

“They called ‘Georgia Barrus, gold,’ and I was like, ‘what?’ I was shocked, I was shaking. I was like ‘this is the coolest thing in my life,’” she said.

Now she is preparing for another cool thing—nationals.

“I’ll do what I did at state, just sharing my passion and not really referring to every point on my slides. I just want to rework what I say and how I present it,” Barrus said.

Her adviser, who herself placed second nationally in FCCLA when she was a high school student, will help her students prepare.

“I was able to look through their rubrics and look at the judges’ notes and I will go over those with Georgia and Lily before nationals,” she said, adding that in addition to the competition, they will attend leadership workshops and be able to network with professionals and students from across the country. “FCCLA really gives students opportunities to serve school and community and helps them grow as a leader and an individual in areas that they’re passionate.”

Cuevas, who estimates there are 300 students who enroll in Cottonwood’s family and consumer science classes, wants to encourage more students to get involved.

“Some students in my classes are really good and talented and passionate about sewing, fashion, cooking, children education so I want to encourage them to join FCCLA because we provide opportunities for them to grow,” she said. “I am so proud of my students who competed this year. They all worked really hard. My sewing students, it was their first real articles of clothing they made. They all did lining, buttonholes, collars—and things that are tricky. I think they all learned a lot throughout the while process, and they learned some great skills they’re applying to other projects. I’m proud of Georgia and Lily and the great leaders they are. They have been great FCCLA officers this year and they’re good example to the rest of the club and school. I’m excited for the things they’re going to do after high school; I really think they’re going to some really good things in the world.”