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FCCLA Students Among Top In Nation

FCCLA  Students  Among Top  In Nation
LETTING THE COMMUNITY SPEAK – Braylie Davis (left) and Noah Varn (right) shared that they utilized newspaper articles and survey results to present the success of their “’Tis the Season to Celebrate Our Differences” event, which raised money for the Toombs County Special Olympics and promoted inclusion within the community.
FCCLA  Students  Among Top  In Nation
LETTING THE COMMUNITY SPEAK – Braylie Davis (left) and Noah Varn (right) shared that they utilized newspaper articles and survey results to present the success of their “’Tis the Season to Celebrate Our Differences” event, which raised money for the Toombs County Special Olympics and promoted inclusion within the community.

Students from Vidalia High School and Toombs County High School traveled to Seattle, Washington, last week for the National Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) Convention, where they ranked Top 3 nationally in several competitions.

Rising Vidalia High School Seniors Braylie Davis and Noah Varn earned 2nd Place in the National Programs in Action: Families First competition, in which they had to come up with an event that improved the quality of life for their families and the community. To accomplish this, Davis and Varn held a Christmas movie event '’Tis the Season to Celebrate Our Differences” – which focused on including individuals with special needs in community activities, and raising money for the Toombs County Special Olympics, at which the pair also volunteered.

During their event on December 18, Davis and Varn held a showing of “The Grinch” at the Pal Theatre, where they bridged the gap between children with special needs and their peers to provide a safe, fun, and inclusive activity that the whole family could enjoy. The event raised $1,500 which was donated to the Toombs County Special Olympics. continued from page

At Nationals, Davis and Varn shared a presentation on their event which highlighted its purpose, community involvement, success, and more. They included articles from The Advance and survey results from those who attended the movie to emphasize the impact of their project.

“We really valued this because the families in our community – with it being a small town – are very tight-knit, so we wanted to highlight that. For us, it was important to share not just what we had to say about ourselves, but what the community had said. I feel like when you’re confident in your event, it’s best not to talk for yourself but let the results speak for themselves. With our event being families first, we really wanted to share what the community had to say and how much they supported us. Don’t take it from us that it was a great event — Take it from these individuals who got to feel inclusion that they didn’t normally feel. Take it from these families that were able to experience this. I have a coach that says that champions don’t have to speak for themselves, so that’s what we strove to do.” Davis remarked.

She continued, commenting on her experience at the competition. “Nationals was pretty seamless,” Davis shared. “We worked really hard, and I knew that Top 3 was possible. So, I wasn’t shocked but I was definitely excited. It was one of those things where we prepared to do our best, so had we not made it, it would not have been because we could not have done anything better. We exceeded our potential, and I’m very proud of us.”

Varn added, “It was amazing and such an honor to represent inclusion in our community, and I think our success in Seattle let us share that inclusion even more. We are so grateful to everyone that helped make this possible.”

When the pair was asked what they learned most from the competition, they agreed that it was definitely learning to take risks. “I think the biggest lesson has been just to take risks and make the most of all of the opportunities,” Davis said. “We had to take a lot of risks and make a lot of new changes, so it was a learning experience. It’s a lot to try to raise money and have a successful project, but you have to make the most of it because nothing is going to be perfect.” Overall, we are very grateful and thankful to have had the opportunity to learn from this and to host this event. Thank you so much to the community for supporting us!

Davis and Varn were not the only successful Vidalia High School students at the convention, as Hillaree Hankerson, Sanaya Lewis, and Rori Johnson placed 3rd in their Public Policy Advocate Project.

In their project, the trio worked to inform the local community about the issues that African Americans face regarding hair discrimination and raised awareness about the importance of passing the C.R.O.W.N. Act – which focuses on Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair. The group presented their research during the event, as they had to research the topic, identify a target audience and potential partnerships, form an action plan, and advocate for the issue in an effort to positively affect the policy.

“These students, with their remarkable leadership and poise, continue to amaze me!” said Vidalia High School FCCLA Sponsor Amanda Mosley. “I'm honored to walk alongside them and witness their growth!”

Meanwhile, Toombs County High School Members Ashlynn Reffitt and Grace Holt also gained national recognition, placing in the Top 3 in their respective competitions.

Reffitt participated in the FCCLA Skills Demonstration Creed Speaking event, where she was judged on her ability to not only recite the organization’s creed, but to also interpret it within her own perspective. She found great success in the event, as she was ranked 2nd in the nation in her endeavor. “FCCLA is a place where everyone is accepted, and it has helped me grow in ways I never imagined,” Reffitt shared while reflecting on the experience.

Recent Toombs County High School Graduate Grace Holt placed 3rd in the FCCLA Students Taking Action with Recognition (STAR) event, RED Talks on Education. During this event, Holt had to plan, research, and deliver an address on the growing issue of teacher shortages.

Holt shared that she prepared for the event by focusing on the need for teachers and researching ways which the educators may be retained; she ultimately focused her speech around 5 ways which school systems could work to retain their educators. She practiced the address daily to ensure she was ready for the national competition.

“The competition was very nerve wracking, but I am so blessed and thankful to have placed third in the nation and come home with a plaque! Hard work pays off!” Holt emphasized.

When asked what she had learned through the experience, Holt said, “The biggest lesson I learned was to never give up and always believe in yourself ” She will now continue her academic career at Georgia Southern University, where she plans to earn a degree in Elementary Education.

Toombs County High School FCCLA Advisor Mallorie Corley also took a hands-on approach to the national convention, as she taught a workshop on personalities and team dynamics to over 150 members and advisors. When reflecting on the experience, Corley shared, “I am so proud of both students who attended. As an adviser, I strive to teach our members perseverance, independence, confidence, and resilience. I want our students to be the best version of themselves, and I am just here to cheer them.”

CREED SPEAKING SUCCESS – Ashlynn Reffitt placed 2nd in the nation for the Creed Speaking competition, where she was required to recite the FCCLA Creed and interpret its meaning through her own perspective and experience.

RED TALK ON EDUCATION – Grace Holt placed 3rd nationally for her speech on the importance of teacher retention. She will now continue her education at Georgia Southern University, where she plans on studying to become an elementary school teacher.

PUBLIC POLICY ADVOCATES – Rori Johnson (left), Sanaya Lewis (middle), and Hillaree Hankerson (right) placed 3rd in the nation for their Public Policy Advocacy project, which focused on the importance of the C.R.O.W.N. Act.

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