This June, three Dawson County High School students will represent Dawson County at a national FCCLA baking and pastry competition in San Diego.
Baking trio Bernadine Baptiste, Megan Dixon and Anna Lee blew away the competition at the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) region baking and pastry competition at the beginning of the year, scoring 86.6 out of a possible 100 points to advance to the state competition in March.
Now, the trio has gone on to continue their success at the state competition, making Dawson County one of just two districts in the state of Georgia that will go on to compete at the national level in June.
At the end of June, Baptiste and Dixon will travel to San Diego to participate in the FCCLA baking and pastry competition on the national level. Due to scheduling conflicts, Lee is unable to join her teammates at the competition, so DCHS FCCLA member Avery Yarbrough will step in to fill Lee’s spot.
“They made it to nationals and they needed another baker, so I volunteered,” Yarbrough said. “I knew I wanted to go to California but I wasn’t gonna go unless they need me; and now they need me.”
Unlike the region and state competitions, this time the three bakers will be competing individually, making four different dishes to test their baking, time management and cake decorating skills.
According to Baptiste, competing as an individual rather than on a team this time is nerve-wracking but exciting at the same time.
“It kind of makes me more excited in a way; I think when you work with a team it’s good to share ideas but you can also kind of butt heads a little bit,” Baptiste said. “But when you’re doing it individually it kind of gives you a chance to do things on your own.”
During the competition, the girls will make chocolate chip cookies, blueberry muffins and puff pastry, in addition to decorating a cake centered around a theme or phrase they will be given. Although they will compete individually, they will practice for the competition together between now and June.
The trio, along with FCCLA Advisor Lori Grant and CTAE Director Amy Smith, will fly out to San Diego on June 27. The girls will participate in the baking and pastry competition over the course of either one or two days, and then they will have a couple of extra days to sightsee and enjoy themselves in San Diego while the rest of the categories within the national FCCLA competition are taking place.
Baptiste and Yarbrough, both of whom have never been on a plane, said that they’re incredibly excited to get to experience a different culture on the other side of the country.
“Apart from baking I’m most excited about the days in between; since moving here I’ve never really been out of Dawsonville, so I’m excited about the whole experience,” Baptiste said.
Yarbrough, who has never been out of the south, said that she’s excited to see what life is like in San Diego.
“I’m excited to see how different people are, and how different the beaches are too,” Yarbrough said.
During their downtime on the trip, the group hopes to have time to enjoy local restaurants, sightsee, visit the San Diego Zoo and go to the beach. Dixon, who hopes to take a surfing lesson while in California, said that getting to participate in the national competition and go to San Diego is an incredibly exciting end to her high school career.
“I’m excited about just having this last thing for senior year; it’s gonna be kind of my last hurrah before I go off to college,” Dixon said. “So it’s a good way to end my senior year.”
Grant said that, as the advisor for FCCLA, she couldn’t be more proud of the girls for making it so far in the competition and representing Dawson County at a national level.
“I’m so excited for them; for them to get to go is pretty impressive,” Grant said. “It’s not an easy competition, it’s really stressful — so I’m just so proud of them.”
To travel to the national competition, each student will need about $2000 for plane tickets and other expenses, not including spending money and food costs. Because of this, the trio has been hard at work to raise funds.
Baptiste has been making and selling cakes to raise funds, Dixon has gone around to several local businesses to ask for support, and all three students have been working to sell scholarships. So far, they said that the community has been very supportive of their fundraising efforts.
“This is the nicest community; everyone is so sweet and really supportive,” Baptiste said. “I was taken aback because I did not expect people to be so open, but everyone here is just so genuine with everything.”
Once they meet their fundraising goals to pay for plane tickets and other expenses, anything that the students manage to raise above that will go to help pay for their meals and other needs while they’re in San Diego.
Grant added that going to the national competition is something that the FCCLA students couldn’t accomplish without the support of the members of the Dawson County community, and she’s grateful for everything the community does to show their support for the students at Dawson County High School.
“The community has been super supportive; from the time we started making it known that we were going to nationals it’s been just a lot of support,” Grant said. “So we’re slowly getting there, but we would not be if it wasn’t for the help from our community. I think they’re as excited as we are; we couldn’t do this without the community support so we’re just really thankful and blessed to be in Dawsonville where even though it’s growing it still has that small-town feel where everybody knows each other.”
To help donate to the students’ fundraising efforts, contact FCCLA Advisor Lori Grant at 706-265-6555 ext 1517 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.