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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Cottonwood FCCLA students seize opportunities during yearlong learning, competitions

Jun 29, 2023 02:45PM ● By Julie Slama

Cottonwood High FCCLA members Annalyse Staker, Nina Boskovic, Lora Larson, Sara Sandusky and Mariana Labrador participated at region and state with the help of Zahaia Cuevas, who is holding the new adviser of the year plaque. (Photo courtesy of Cottonwood High FCCLA)

At Cottonwood High, Family, Career and Community Leaders of America chapter is a pathway for students to have new opportunities and about 20 members took advantage of that.

Seniors Mariana Labrador and Lora Larson learned about leadership as they became the chapter’s president and vice president, respectively. They joined five other Cottonwood officers as they learned about their responsibilities in office at the fall leadership conference.

“It got them really hyped and excited about the school year,” Cottonwood High adviser Zahaia Cuevas said. “They learned different types of leadership and how to promote and incorporate FCCLA into their meetings.”

Guest speaker gold medal skeleton Olympian Noelle Pikus-Pace taught the Cottonwood student-leaders about perseverance.

“She talked about working hard and doing all you can to persevere, no matter all the obstacles that come your way. They really took that to heart,” she said.

As the officers led the meetings, they also focused on a place which was open and inviting, Cuevas said.

“We wanted it to be a space where they could make new friends and have fun doing an activity. It’s a place to come hang out with people who like similar things,” she said. “We wanted any student to be welcome to come for a fun time during lunch. We wanted to reach students who normally wouldn’t be involved in clubs to come to our club so that they could feel like they were a part of something.”

Most activities related to family and consumer science classes, giving club members the opportunity to expand their knowledge.

“Taking from the preschool class, we made a hand turkey and wrote things that we’re thankful for Thanksgiving; we designed different outfits, learning from the fashion class. We had social gatherings, and usually we do service; we helped with the Halloween trunk or treat,” she said.

By February, the chapter was focused on their competitive season. Five members took advantage of that opportunity and learned along the way.

FCCLA students across the state competed in more than 30 STAR competitive events, or Students Taking Action with Recognition events. The events prepare students for proficiency and achievement in chapter and individual projects, leadership skills and career preparation. FCCLA chapters prepare members for careers through its four career pathways: human services, hospitality and tourism, education and training, and visual arts and design.

In the STAR events, students demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and abilities to actively identify an issue concerning families, careers, or communities, research the topic, and develop and implement a project to advocate for positive change.

Sophomore Nina Boskovic competed in the leadership contest which highlighted her leadership roles in different clubs and organizations.

“I also talked about how I’ve learned leadership skills through the book, “Dare to Lead,” and making goals to better my skills,” she said in an Instagram post. 

Boskovic earned the bronze recognition at both region and state, and placed third at state.

Larson competed in the event, Focus on Children, using her own Lora’s Drop and Shop summer camp in her presentation. That project “impacted the community by helping children,” Cuevas said. “She basically had a preschool for ages 4 to 10 in her house over the last summer. She planned lessons for them and had activities for them to do every day. It was a great project.”

She earned the gold distinction at region and at state and placed third overall at state.

Labrador and senior Sara Sandusky competed in fashion design where they each had to create a five-piece collection for a target audience and price the items as if they would be available for purchase. They then each sewed one of the outfits and presented it to the judges.

“Sara’s collection was inspired by the universe,” Cuevas said. “Her line was created with galaxies and stars and that look. It was very cool that she incorporated twinkling lights in the dress that lit up when she would wear it.”

In an Instagram post, Sandusky said that first dress, which is based on a nebula, is part of the life cycle of a star.

She received bronze at region and silver at state.

Labrador’s collection was inspired by Vivienne Westwood, Cuevas said.

“She took that grunge look and modernized it into everyday wear. She made a corset and tailored pants that were very cool,” she said. “The sewing techniques she used were very complicated.”

In an Instagram post, she said that Westwood as well as the end of the Victorian era inspired her fashion line, but she also appreciated the kimchi fried rice workshop: “It was very fun to learn a few kitchen tricks and have a break from the competition stress. I also liked the fashion show because I got to talk to people about their fashion projects.” 

She took silver at region and bronze at state.

Junior Annalyse Staker competed in fashion construction with the look, “Pretty in Pink,” inspired by Chanel. 

“She made a pretty pink tweed jacket with silk lining and a matching skirt from her own original pattern. Then she made alterations, so it fit perfectly,” Cuevas said. “She did a lot of hard work.”

Staker, who liked seeing other “cool projects that people created,” received silver medals at both competitions.

They also were part of the state fashion show, where they got to showcase their creations.

Besides students earning awards, Cuevas said they took that opportunity to learn.

“The sewing students learned a lot of new techniques. Nina and Lora were nervous about presenting, but this helped them feel more confident. They’re such hardworking and impressive students with everything they do academically and in different clubs. They expressed to me how grateful they were that they competed and it’s good that they were able to share what they’re doing to help the community and to help the school. They deserve to be recognized for their hard work,” she said.

Cuevas also was honored for her hard work as she was honored as the FCCLA new adviser of the year.

The award honors an adviser who has served for under five years.

“My students nominated me, and it’s been great. I do this for them, so for them to fill out the paperwork and to think I’ve made such a difference is really sweet. I’ve gotten a lot of support from my school and district, so it was exciting for me,” she said. “I’m really motivated for next year.” λ