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Dawson County High School students advance to national FCCLA competition
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Dawson County High School students Blake Smith, Kathryn Menoche and Lily McCracken recently won second place in a statewide FCCLA competition and will advance to nationals in the end of June.

Four students from Dawson County High School’s Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) organization recently competed in a statewide competition, placing second and advancing to the national competition. 

According to Lori Grant, FCCLA advisor at DCHS, students competing in the FCCLA state competition submitted video presentations of their projects to be reviewed and scored. All projects fit into one of several categories, including teaching, education and culinary arts. 

Several FCCLA teams from Dawson County High School competed in the contest, which Grant said is impressive in itself. Out of the total competitors, two groups of four Dawson County students will advance to the national competition. 

“They had to compete in region first and all of my groups that competed in region made it to the state level which was really exciting because that’s not always a thing,” Grant said. “And then from state they found out if we get to go to nationals, so to have two groups going to nationals is pretty amazing because I‘ve only ever had two groups go to state before since I’ve been doing this in the last five years.”

This year’s competition was slightly different than past years, going totally virtual, according to Grant.

“All of our competitions were virtual this year, so they had to video themselves as if they were there in person,” Grant said. “So that was kind of tricky trying to wrap our heads around how to make it look like we’re actually there; and each individual group had to work really hard on their own.” 

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Dawson County High School student Jenna Hurst won the second place individual place at the statewide FCCLA competition and will advance to nationals in June.

Grant said that the competition is a challenging one and that she is very proud of all of her teams for making it as far as they did. 

The two projects that will advance to nationals won second place group and second-place individual titles at state, and a third Dawson County team won third place, barely missing the cutoff to advance. 

Three Dawson County students won the second place group title with their “Chapter Service Project”. Grant said that students Blake Smith, Kathryn Menoche and Lily McCracken had the idea of starting a hygiene drive for those in need of basic hygiene products. 

“We helped back in December with Operation Christmas Child, and they were hanging out in my classroom after saying ‘what else can we do for our community?’,” Grant said. “And then they said ‘well nobody does hygiene projects’ so they did a hygiene drive here at school and had an overwhelming participation from students and staff.” 

The trio put together about 115 hygiene bags, beating their self-set goal of 100, that they then gave to the local nonprofit Meals by Grace to distribute in the community. When Texas was hit with widespread power outages in the beginning of 2021, the group started fundraising again, raising enough money to donate $1,000 towards hygiene products for those in need there. 

“They added that to their competition presentation and re-videoed, so I think that probably showed that they helped people outside of just our community — it wasn’t just for Dawson County but it helped out our nation,” Grant said. “So they just did a really great job of thinking outside the box with that.” 

Another Dawson County student, Jenna Hurst, won the second place individual title for her “Teach and Train” project. Grant said that Hurst used her own experience as a teaching intern in Dawson County as part of her project. 

“She used her work-based learning internship at Robinson Elementary and the things that she was doing there to create lessons, show their growth and say what she’s learned in her teaching internship,” Grant said. “So she did a really good job presenting and she scored really well; there’s some ownership there as far as she really does wanna be a teacher so that helps too.” 

Both projects will advance to the national competition, which will take place in Nashville at the end of June. Grant said that between now and then, the students will be adding to and improving upon their projects to submit in June for a chance at winning nationals and several potential scholarship opportunities. 

“We get their rubrics back from the judges and they give us feedback, and we have an opportunity to re-video and fix whatever it is that the judges suggested,” Grant said. “And nationals is a hybrid, so they’ll submit their video again for judging but we’ll actually get to go to Nashville for the conference and actually be there for the awards.” 

All four students advancing to nationals are juniors at Dawson County High School, and their projects were judged up against the projects of other juniors and seniors at the competition. Grant said that with how much work all of the students have put into their projects, both groups should have a good chance at winning. 

Grant said that the FCCLA students also couldn’t have done as well as they have without the support of their families and teachers at the high school. 

“We’re so thankful that our staff and teachers at the high school have been so kind in letting the students work on their projects during class time,” Grant said. “It means so much that teachers support their students in their extracurricular stuff.”