Area students shine at FCCLA contests

William Thompson

Three Tucumcari High School students did well in the Family Career Community Leaders of America competition in Albuquerque recently, and three students from House School will go on to compete in national competition in Chicago.

Teresa Araiz, of Tucumcari, won top prize in the cake decorating competition, but students in that category do not have a national contest. Tucumcari students Jose Gardea and Jennifer Maestas were awarded runner-up in the illustrated talk category, just missing a chance to compete in Chicago. Cara Hendrickson, of House, won first prize in the chapter service display category, and will be competing in Chicago along with fellow House students Aaron Elliott and Jonathan Widmark who won top prize in the chapter service manual category.

Maria Haase, the faculty advisor for Tucumcari’s FCCLA team, said a lot of preparation goes into the FCCLA competition. We spent all year working on the illustrated talk,” said Haase. “The students had to do research, make posters and visual props, give presentations to various groups and prepare their oral presentation. It’s a lot of work for a ten minute presentation before judges.” Haase said the cake decoration category requires more preparation than some might think.

“In addition to decorating the cake in front of the judges, the students have to create a sample billing form,” said Haase. “They also have to gain knowledge of community health laws governing an in-home cake decorating business and prepare an order form as if they were operating a bakery.”
Teresa Araiz, winner in the cake decorating category, said she was under pressure at the state competition. “I was really nervous,” she said. “A lot of people were staring at me while I was decorating the cake.”

Araiz had to create a design that involved the theme of graduation. She came up with a design of a puppy graduating from school. “It took me an hour to come up with the idea, and then a lot of hours to practice the actual decoration.” Jose Gardea and Jennifer Maestas had to prepare a presentation on drunk driving. They spent hours of preparation talking to groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving. They created a large coffin out of cardboard for a visual prop to go along with their presentation.
Gardea said the judges complimented his and Maestas’ visuals and Maestas said she thought they should have won the competition.

“I thought our presentation was good enough to make it, “ said Maestas. “We made posters, prepared a ten minute speech and we had a lot of facts about alcohol-related crashes.” Cara Hendrickson’s project involved interviewing veterans of war and recording the interviews in order to send them to the Library of Congress. The House student is still involved in putting the interviews in a digital format.
“I interviewed 18 veterans, and we are now putting the recordings into DAT format to send to the Library of Congress,” she said. “I’m excited about winning. I have always wanted to go to Chicago.”

Jonathan Widmark and Aaron Elliott will also be going to Chicago after they won the chapter service manual competition. Widmark said their manual showed how the two orchestrated a special Thanksgiving dinner for grandparents. The three House students will try for national honors this July in Chicago.