FCCLA projects foster life skills, success


Junior Belle Foster demonstrates culinary skills. Photo courtesy of Kelli McDonald.

Jessica An and Sarah Park

“Hey, hey, hey, it’s FCCLA!” 

This cheery slogan is no doubt familiar to many South students, as it rings out over the morning announcements to remind club members of their weekly Thursday meetings.

FCCLA stands for “Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America”, junior Ava Winer, Co-President and Culinary Arts student, explained. While FCCLA is a club, there are also a variety of related electives that help further develop a participant’s skills. 

The competition judges many different sections like interior design, fashion, foods, child development, and other consumer related skills, Kelli McDonald, Family Consumer Science Teacher and FCCLA Advisor, said. After February sectionals, FCCLA moved onto state in early April, where they won three gold medals, four silver, and one bronze, and will go to nationals in July. 

Students create projects specific to their topic following a set of guidelines, ranging from preschool lessons to constructing a fashion piece, McDonald explained. Each project is unique, and students prepare for competitions differently depending on what type of event they are doing.

“If [students] were competing in culinary and baking, we will get the recipes, I’ll get the ingredients, and we actually make them in the foods room on Thursdays,” McDonald said. “For child development, they’re looking at their rubric, kind of trying to annotate their rubric, and then get started on either their binder or their slides presentation. For interior design, they’re actually making the interior design boards, or for fashion, they’re making their garments.”

Projects allow the students to apply what they learned in the club to real life situations, club member junior Margaret Gallagher said.

“This year, I did a preschool lesson,” Gallagher explained. “The FCCLA chose friendship as the theme, so I [made] a friendship blanket with the kids. I practiced [presenting the project] in real life in the Titan preschool downstairs, and I demonstrated it in front of invisible kids to the judges two weeks ago.” 

After a year spent online, FCCLA jumped back into in-person competitions this year for the first time since the start of Covid-19, Winer said.

 “I think this year has definitely been great getting back to normal, because last year on Zoom it was really difficult to communicate with my group members,” Winer said.0 “Being able to work together is really nice and [so is] getting to actually compete in-person instead of through a Zoom call or a video.”

By partaking in the club or the related electives, students develop their consumer skills for a potential career in the future, Gallagher said. In addition to helping students grow their skills, FCCLA is also a place to meet new people and form deeper relationships.

“I’ve made a lot of new friendships since I joined the club,” Gallagher said. “I’ve gotten really close with the advisors, and I think it’s just a good way to see if your elective is something you do want to continue outside of high school and in the future.”

The expertise that students gain go beyond their competition; they are life skills they can apply on a day-to-day basis, co-president junior Connor Blandford said. 

 “It has made me better at presenting and better at time management,” Blandford said. “It gives you a really good understanding of what you need to do, like setting up timelines for yourself, how to practice a speech, or how to be good with interviews.”

While the students work hard for their goals and learn new skills, the teachers feel pride for the students’ success, McDonald said. As a teacher, these accomplishments make her feel overjoyed. The true value of FCCLA is hard work and dedication, McDonald emphasized, shown by the work students put into their projects. 

“I got to work with so many students who were passionate about what they were doing, and whenever students are passionate and give so much time and energy [to their project], you can just see the wheels turning,” McDonald said. “[Seeing the projects] turn out so beautifully and seeing students proud of their work is amazing.”