Maxwell FCCLA participants preparing for state competition

Maxwell Family, Career and Community Leaders of America members, from left, Zoe Francescato, Kenzie Vedder, Hayley Yost and Jett Simpson pose with their 2018-19 projects book in front of the many trophies the club has garnered through the years.

Family, Career and Community Leaders of America encourages and teaches young people leadership skills that help them make their way into their future careers, Maxwell Public Schools students say.

Feb. 11-15 is FCCLA Week across the nation. At Maxwell, club members are putting the finishing touches on the projects they will enter at state competition in April.

Zoe Francescato, Kenzie Vedder, Jett Simpson and Hayley Yost each said they have grown tremendously since being involved in FCCLA.

“My seventh-grade year I did a project on career investigation,” Simpson said. “You chose a career, you did a mock job interview, you job-shadowed. You learned all about your career, the colleges you could go to, the wages, what area would work best for your career.”

Simpson’s career investigation was on horse training.

“FCCLA opens up a lot of doors for your career and your future,” Simpson said. “It helps you with better speaking skills and just gets you ready for your career.”

Vedder said she originally was interested in being a nurse, but because of FCCLA, she may do something different.

“But then as I helped through the community I realized I wanted to work with younger people,” Vedder said. “That’s something that helped me through FCCLA is realizing what I want to do when I graduate.”

Francescato said leadership and speaking skills will be helpful in her future career.

“I want to become a lawyer,” Francescato said. “I’m really good with arguments, per se.”

She said she has developed strong opinions about various subjects.

“I think what FCCLA has helped me with is speech and having good conversation,” Francescato said. “FCCLA helped me to grow to become a good speaker in front of many people. You have to work on speeches. You have to write your own speeches.”

Yost is a senior and has been involved with FCCLA since seventh grade.

“When I started out in seventh grade, I was too scared to talk to anybody, and it’s really helped push me with my people skills,” Yost said. “I’ve learned how to talk to people and ask questions instead of sitting in the corner and not doing anything.”

“One of the things about FCCLA is that it is student-ran and student-organized,” Simpson said. “So you learn a lot about leadership skills and development of yourself and your community.”

Vedder said it’s like “students helping students.”

The Maxwell group has 48 members, and 12 of their 13 projects were selected to go to the state competition in April. The education gleaned from doing the projects, the students said, helps them to deal with difficult subjects.

“Some of the projects can be about pretty controversial topics, and it really pushes you to get over your own opinion on it and listen to what somebody else has to say,” Yost said.

“It’s not just about you, it’s about how you can better the community,” Francescato said. “You really have to work with other people.”

One of those topics is a sex trafficking project.

“They’re really pushing the boundaries of what kids want to talk about, because they get very uncomfortable when we talk about things like that,” Francescato said. “So with these projects, I think we’re really helping those kids realize the harmful effects of what your actions can do.”

Support comes in many different forms, including from within the club. The students said they’re “like family.”

Students who aren’t in FCCLA are also willing to help with projects.

“A lot of these kids who aren’t in FCCLA are willing to support the FCCLA kids,” Vedder said. “It’s the good thing about a smaller school is that pretty much all the kids will help with things like the bake sales — they’re willing to help donate money or even help set it up and take it down.”

The winners at the state competition can go to the national leadership conference from June 30 to July 4 in Anaheim, California.

Simpson said the FCCLA mission is to promote personal growth and leadership development through family and consumer sciences education.

“The theme for this year is ‘Believe in Yourself,’” Simpson said.

The FCCLA Week activities include a different focus each day, although the weather forced the cancellation of school on Monday. The “Be Spirited” focus was for Monday; Tuesday: “Be Confident;” Wednesday: “Be Prepared;” Thursday: “Be A Friend” and Friday: “Be You in Red.”

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