City of Fairfax FCCLA members, from both Lanier Middle and Fairfax High schools, with a banner thanking their sponsor, ManTech. (From left) are Kayleigh Williams, Juli Luckabaugh, Miranda Cespedes, Naomi Daniels, Riley Sarber, Yale Kim, Emily Sarber, Hope Peters and Hana Ismail. (Not pictured: Diego Santiago).
Photo Courtesy of Susan von Schaack
Students from Lanier Middle and Fairfax High schools came home from both the FCCLA State and National Leadership Conference with smiles on their faces and medals around their necks. FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America) is a national student organization that particularly focuses on family.
For the State competition, the students worked for several months preparing their STAR (Students Taking Action for Recognition) events, projects, portfolios and presentations. And four teams – eight students from Lanier and two from Fairfax – then earned the privilege of representing Fairfax City, FCPS and Virginia at Nationals.
“Last year, one team of three students made it to the FCCLA National Leadership Conference to compete,” said Susan von Schaack, Family and Consumer Science teacher at Lanier and FCCLA advisor at Fairfax. “This year, I took 10 students for the competition, plus the newly elected state officer, Fairfax High rising senior Laura Stravach. She’ll be Virginia FCCLA’s vice president of membership for the 2018-2019 school year.”
States were held in April in Virginia Beach, with City of Fairfax students capturing a slew of medals. In the Promote and Publicize category, Fairfax High freshman Juli Luckabaugh and Lanier seventh-graders Hana Ismail and Riley Sarber earned gold medals and first place in Virginia.
In Chapter Service Project Display, Lanier eighth-grader Kayleigh Williams and seventh-grader Naomi Daniels took second place and won silver medals. They were honored for their Toasty Toes service project for which they collected socks for homeless people in Fairfax.
Competing in Food Innovations, Fairfax freshman Miranda Cespedes and Lanier eighth-graders Yale Kim and Emily Sarber took home the gold. The Tropical Smoothie Cupcake created by this team earned a perfect score of 100 points for a first-place finish.
On the Advocacy team, Lanier eighth-graders Hope Peters and Diego Santiago missed the gold for their “Oh, No! GMO” STAR project. but garnered enough points to win silver medals and come in first in the state.
All the team members are a truly dedicated group of leaders,” said von Schaack. “Not only did the students assist with several fundraisers on weekends throughout the school year, but they gave up their free time and worked with their teammates on teacher workdays because they wanted to do their best at the National Leadership Conference in Atlanta.”
They also needed to raise money for their trip and associated expenses, so the team co-presidents created a brochure and a donation proposal and made a presentation to ManTech. The company then gave them a contribution that paid for their uniform blazers, Virginia Delegation fee for Nationals, entry to the Atlanta Aquarium and 5K race entry fee.
FCCLA Nationals were held June 28-July 2, during which all students vied against other chapter members from across the country. While there, several also attended workshops and leadership courses or volunteered as room consultants for the judging teams in various event categories. Furthermore, chapter members networked with other students to obtain ideas to use in the City of Fairfax chapter in the coming year.
During the competition, 10 students from six Fairfax County Public Schools earned gold medals – and six of those students were from City of Fairfax schools. A total of 30 STAR competitions were offered; they supported foundational, leadership and workplace skills in areas such as advocacy, culinary arts and entrepreneurship.
Fairfax City gold medal winners were Cespedes, Kim and Sarber in Food Innovations, plus Luckabaugh, Ismail and Riley Sarber in Promote and Publicize FCCLA. Earning silver medals were Peters in the Advocacy STAR event (Santiago was unable to attend), plus Daniels and Williams in Chapter Service Project Display.
In addition, three local students were recognized for completing certain challenges. Luckabaugh completed the ENGAGE Leadership Academy, and Peters and Emily Sarber earned the LAUNCH Leadership Academy certificates and medals.
“I’m really proud of how well all the teams did at the national conference,” said von Schaack. “They are the true leaders of tomorrow and they’re learning these skills by being a part of FCCLA.”