FCCLA: Yearlong effort garners results

FCCLAlogocolorBy Nabi Dressler


While some clubs’ seasons wind down towards the end of the year and seasonal sports cease, the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) is in full swing. FCCLA’s state competition will take place April 10-12 at the Lincoln Convention Center in Springfield. Sectionals took place Feb. 14 at Harper College.

According to FCCLA sponsor Amy Collins, who coordinated the sectional, 19 schools competed in sectionals. Of the 25 Prospect students who competed, 21 advanced to state and 18 students placed first, or Most Outstanding, in their categories.

Unlike other activities, FCCLA’s competitive season doesn’t end with the state conference; the national competition is in July. FCCLA members work on their projects throughout the year, and these constant revisions contribute to students’ success in competitions.

The students have one-on-one meetings with an advisor after winter break and finals. They update their projects or ask questions about how to improve in accordance with their score rubrics. Practices stretch from the end of the school day to 7 p.m., which serve as dress rehearsals where they fine-tune their projects, perform their speeches for their projects in front of each other and show up to practices even if it’s not their designated day.

Another factor to FCCLA’s success is students who are able to hone their skills throughout their multiple years in FCCLA.

“If they kind of master the skill early on, then they continue to win the rest of the time too, but it’s really about self-discipline, being able to read a rubric and translate it and then just coming back as often as possible and continuously editing their project,” Collins said.

According to Collins, students are wrong to assume they’ll fare well at state and nationals if they succeeded at sectionals.

“If you don’t go back between Feb. 14 and April 10 and basically tear your perfect project apart, you’re not going to get a perfect [score] again,” Collins said. “We encourage that and we tell our students over and over, [FCCLA] is what you want of it. If your goal is to make it to nationals, this is what you need to do.”

Collins and fellow FCCLA sponsor Lisa Curtin also do what’s different than many schools; they both work with students. First, they split the students according to their specialties, but Collins checks the projects of Curtin’s students and vice versa.

“Even though Curtin may be advising, you’re not going to do as well unless Collins tears up your project the way she wants it,” Collins said.

Collins and Curtin pretend to be two different judges, with Collins playing “devil’s advocate.”

“[Curtin and I] really just say, ‘Oh, nope, you think that’s perfect? I’m going tell you, ‘I want more of this,’” Collins said.

Throughout the year, students tweak or completely alter their projects. In addition, every student going to nationals after state is required to hold a fundraiser of their own, not to gain money for their own expenses but for all of FCCLA.

“Fundraisers are not only trying to get us money, but it’s a way of getting out in the community and it’s showing leadership,” Collins said.

To determine students’ projects, Collins and Curtin look at which project would fit a student’s skills the best. Also, students don’t compete against each other; FCCLA at Prospect, unlike other schools, tries “not to knock each other out” by competing in the same events, according to Collins.

As the program grows, Collins, Curtin and FCCLA members themselves get more FCCLA-related opportunities. For instance, due to their high performance at the national level last year, Curtin and Collins were invited to speak about FCCLA on behalf of Prospect’s, at the annual national conference in North Carolina.

To see the Prezi they used at this national meeting, click here. One misconception about FCCLA is that it’s just about cooking; there are projects of various topics available.